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Full text of "The boys of Springtown : with special reference to William Wallace Jones and Ned Fisher"

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The Boys of Springtown 



With Special Reference to William Wallace 
Jones and Ned Fisher. 



By XEPHI ANDERSON, 

Author of "Added Upon," "John St. John,' 
"Romance of a Missionary,^' Etc. 



DRAWINGS BY C. E. TILLOTSOX. 



Press of Zion's Printing and Publishing Company, 

Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. 

1920. 



"The hills are dearest which our childhood feet 
Have climbed the earliest; and the streams most sweet 
Are ever those at which our ^oung lips drank — 
Stooped to their waters o*er the grassy hank-" 

— Whittier 



TO MY BOYS. 
DEAN, GRANT, HARALD, CHARLES. 



THE LIBRARY 

BR.GHAM YOUNG .; .iv£RSra 
PROVO, UTAH 



CONTENTS 



Frontispiece. Pag« 

CHAPTER ONE, In which William Wallace Jones 
Arrives in the Land of Opportunity and Meets 
Ned Fisher 7 

CHAPTER TWO, In which some more of the Boys 
of Springtown are Introduced and We Get Better 
Acquainted with Aunt Martha 20 

CHAPTER THREE, In which the Springtown Gun- 
club has an Outing, to which is Added an Ad- 
venture with the Indians .^- 32 

CHAPTER FOUR, Wherein the Boys Embark on a 
Voyage of Discovery, and Take Possession of 
their Findings 45 

CHAPTER FIVE, In which the Boys of Springtown 

Conduct a Story-telling Contest 58 

CHAPTER SIX, Which Tells How the Boys Played 

some Pranks, and Paid for Them 70 

CHAPTER SEVEN, Wherein the Story-telling Contest 

is Continued 82 

CHAPTER EIGHT, In which the Circus Comes within 

reach of Springtown 92 

CHAPTER NINE, Which tells of the Circus Coming to 

Springtown.....-^..— rrz^-^. 103 

CHAPTER TEN, In which the Boys Become Interest- 
ed in Theatricals, and Take Part in an Outing to 
the Hills 113 

CHAPTER ELEVEN, Wherein Ned and Will Spend an 
Evening with "Old Man Hansen" with Mutual 
Profit 124 

CHAPTER TWELVE, In which the Bishop Talks to 
the Boys, and William Wallace is Called upon 
to Make a Sacrifice ■-. 137 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN, In which Will Jones' Mother 
Comes to Zion, and We Say Good-bye to the 
Boys of Springtown 151 




The Boys of Springtown. 



CHAPTER ONE 



In Which William Wallace Jones Arrives in the Land 
of Opportunity and Meets Ned Fisher. 

The boys of Springtown, for the most part, had 
come to that village directly from heaven; William 
Wallace Jones, however, came by way of Liverpool, 
England, across the Atlantic ocean in the steerage 
of the S, S, Nevada, then by rail from New York to 
Wanda, and the remaining few miles by wagon. He 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



had enjoyed the ocean voyage, not having been sea- 
sick, but the long rail-road journey was wearisome, 
and the wagon which brought him from Wanda to 
Springtown rattled uncomfortably over .the rocky 
road. William Wallace Jones, therefore, arrived at 
his destination in rather a jaded, untidy condition, 
which, of course, he would not have done had he 
come directly from heaven. 

William Wallace had left his father and mother 
in Liverpool. His mother was a saintly woman; his 
father — well, the less said about him and his drink, 
the better. An uncle, being about to emigrate to 
America, offered to take the boy along. The mother, 
and the father also in his sober moments, realizing 
that this would be best for their son, gave their con- 
sent. The boy himself, dimly sensing that his father's 
hard life among the Liverpool docks was before him 
also was glad of the opening to escape. Was not here 
a chance to go to the land of Zion or America, which 
is also the Land of Opportunity! 

The reason why Uncle Josiah had chosen to come 
to Springtown was because an acquaintance there had 
written him an invitation to come. Before Josiah 
Jones had moved to Liverpool, he had worked in the 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



coal mines of Wales. Wishing to escape this kind of 
labor, he had joined his brother at the Liverpool 
docks; but life was hard there also. He had written 
to his friend in western America that he wanted to get 
out into the open, and live the remainder of his life 
in God's sunshine. The friend had replied that in 
and about Springtown there were vast stores of fresh, 
clean, sun-bathed mountain air to be had for the 
breathing; and, as far as he knew, there were no ships' 
docks or coal mines within a hundred miles. All this 
appealed strongly to Josiah Jones and to his wife 
Martha Jones, and — I suppose — to their only child, 
little six-year old Gwennie. William Wallace, not 
being consulted, expressed no opinion. How the head 
of the family was to make a living in this new land 
away from docks and mines had not worried Josiah 
Jones. The Lord who gave the pure air and the sun- 
shine would, no doubt, provide the bread and butter. 
It was dark when the wagon containing the big 
trunk, the bundles, and the emigrant family arrived 
at their destination. The driver of the wagon, who 
was the friend that had sent the invitation, had ex- 
plained that he was sorry he could not take them to 
his home, because one of the children had the measles; 



10 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



80 the best that could be done for a few days was to 
lodge them in the school house, then not in use. The 
travelers gladly accepted any shelter to lay their 
tired heads. After a good warm supper which the 
good sisters of the Relief Society had provided, the 
bedding was spread on the floor, a prayer of thanks- 
giving for their safe arrival was said, and then they 
blew out the lamp and went to bed. 

William Wallace did not fall to sleep immediate- 
ly as did the others. What a long trip it had been, 
he thought! He had never before been away from his 
mother more than a day or two, and now — she was on 
the other side of the world from him. . . . How still 
it was, after having lived all his life among noise. Not 
a sound came to him, save now and then the clang of 
a bell from some nearby yard. . . . What was mother 
doing? It would be nearly morning now in England, 
and she would be busy with his father's breakfast. 
Oh, but she was a good mother — the best person on 
the earth! He could have treated her much better 
than he had; but regrets were vain now. She had 
clung to him, and had cried so, and had kissed him 
many times when he had left her. . . . The tears 
came to the boy's cheeks, and he cried softly a little 
while before he went to sleep. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 11 



The boy was the first to awaken in the morning. 
When he sat up and rubbed his eyes, the sun was 
shining through the uncurtained window. Without 
waking any of the others, he dressed, and went out 
doors. He was curious to know to what kind of place 
he had come. 

What he saw differed from anything he had ever 
before seen, save as he had caught gUmpses through 
the car windows. He had surely come to one of the 
"Valleys of the Mountains" of which he had heard 
the missionary elders and his Uncle speak. His 
imaginative picture of Springtown had been based 
on a small section of Liverpool, and so he was sur- 
prised to see no town at all, as he understood that 
term. One street or road extended through the val- 
ley, the lower hills on one side, the fields and meadows 
on the other. Here and there, sometimes quite a dis- 
tance apart, were houses; some of logs, a number of 
rusty red brick, and a few of lumber which at some 
time in the distant past, had been painted white. 
Down in the lower part of the valley were patches of 
brush and trees, fringing a stream. The lower hills 
reached up to the distant mountains which were 
more rugged, some of them pine-clad, and others 



12 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



bearing in deep crevises patches of half -melted snow. 
Above the sharp outlines of the mountains extended 
the bluest sky the boy had ever seen, into which the 
warm sun was now mounting. And the morning air! 
How clear and cool and invigorating it was! 

William Wallace walked through the gateway 
and sauntered along a grass-bordered path which 
led to the lower fields. He came to some pole bars 
through which he slipped into a meadow. The grass 
was wet with dew. A flock of birds was chattering 
in the tree tops. He wondered whether or not he was 
trespassing by walking on the grass; but there were 
no paths pointed out, nor stiles to climb as there were 
in the fields near Liverpool, as he had seen on the rare 
occasions when he had visited them. The boy had 
come into a new world. He seemed to feel that he 
was freer here to come and to go as he pleased. He 
was a Httle dazed, as a bird might be, which had been 
released from the narrow confines of its cage. 

The boy wandered somewhat aimlessly on until 
he came to the river. From the grassy bank he 
looked down into the clear water which here eddied 
into a pool. A little further along it broke and tum- 
bled over the stones, sending back the pleasant music 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 13 



of splashing water, which sang itself into the heart of 
the listening boy. Presently, he walked on down the 
stream, passed the rapids to where the river widened, 
then divided and flowed about an island amidstreams. 
The island was covered with grass and brush, and the 
boy could see that on the side nearest to him there 
was a tiny cove with a pebbled beach. 

The island appealed strongly to William Wallace 
Jones. Some people might find a reason for this in 
the fact that his grandfather had spent most of his 
life cruising among the tropical islands of the South 
Seas, and had poured many an interesting tale of 
them into the young boy's listening ear. Be that as 
it may, the boy was very much interested in his 
new surroundings, and started out to see more of 
them. 

In exploring a small forest of brush which skirted 
the stream, William Wallace had to break his way 
through some of the denser places, in doing which he 
made considerable noise. Suddenly, he came out 
on to a clear grassy plat near the water, and fairly 
burst upon a boy who was fishing. As William Wal- 
lace arrived rather abruptly, the fisher turned with a 
scowling admonition for him to make less noise. 



14 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"There, dam it!" exclaimed the boy with the 
fishing rod/' a big fish was just goin' to bite, when you 
scared it away. It was a whopper. Why — ?" 

The question was not fully asked, as the boy 
turned and saw that the intruder was not one of his 
village companions. The two stood looking at each 
other. The boy who had been fishing eyed William 
Wallace from head to foot. He grinned, and then he 
scowled. This new-comer must be shown his place 
in that town right away. The fisher pulled his line 
from the water, deliberately wrapped it about the 
crooked willow rod, and stuck the hook, for safety, 
into the soft bark. Then he stepped up to William 
Wallace with a threatening attitude, and asked? 

"Who are you, anyway?" 

The other retreating slowly replied: "I just come, 
sir. I — I didn't mean to disturb you." 

"Ye didn't? Well, why didn't ye come by the 
path, then, an' not make such a racket through the 
brush? I've a good mind to punch yer head for 
scarin' the fish." 

William Wallace continued to retreat before the 
other boy. He was not exactly frightened at the 
strange behavior of the boy, but he was somewhat 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 15 

startled at this his first encounter with the boys of 
Springtown. William Wallace was not usually afraid 
of boys of his own age and size, as those living in the 
neighborhood of his Liverpool home could testify; 
but this native son of America was certainly an 
"odd un". He was about the English boy's age and 
size. His face was sunburned and freckled. One sus- 
pender held up his well-worn overalls. He had on 
no hat, neither shoes nor stockings. 

William Wallace did not know that the bank on 
which he was backing toward the stream had been 
undermined by the swiftly-flowing river a foot or 
two under^the apparently firm sod. Neither did the 
other boy know it, or he would not so jauntily have 
followed the retreating boy and tapped him lightly 
on the nose. 

The new boy did not want to fight on the very 
first day of his arrival in a strange land; but that ag- 
gressive touch on his face angered him, and his right 
fist shot out swiftly and hit his opponent's nose some- 
what harder than his own had been. This angered 
the assailant, who now pressed the other boy close 
to the bank. As William Wallace felt the bank giving 
away under his feet, he clunched the other boy firmly 



16 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



by the arm. For a moment they swayed on the bank, 
then both of them fell with a splash into the river. 

Luckily, the boys fell feet first into the stream, 
and as the water reached only up to their waists, 
they scrambled out without much difficulty. William 
Wallace, being more fully dressed than the other, 
was heavily laden with water. A wet skin soon dries, 
so the lightly-clad lad did not worry; but he grinned 
at William Wallace as he said : 

"Say, that was some wettin'. What ye get so 
near the edge for? I was only kiddin' ye, anyway. 
Say, what's yer name?" 

"WilHam Wallace Jones." 

"Gee! that's too long for Springtown. I'll call 
ye Will on week days, an' William Wallace on Sun- 
days. You just come over, didn't ye?" 

"Over where, sir?" 

"Why, from the Old Country. Ain't you the 
kid what just come from England?" 

"Oh, yes, sir — just last night." 

"Are ye a fighter?" 

"No, sir." 

"But ye can fight, can't ye?" 

"Well, sir, when I have to." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 17 



"Say, I want ye to be on my side. My name is 
Ned, Ned Fisher." 

The other boy, not knowing just what this invita- 
tion meant, did not reply. He was very wet and some- 
what miserable. He must also be getting back to 
the folks, for he would be missed. 

"I think ril be going now," said Will. 

"Say, ril go with ye. Fd better explain to your 
ma that it wasn't your fault that ye got wet." 

They found the path which led away from the 
river to the field and up the road. The fisher's luck 
had not been good that morning, his catch consisting 
of only three small trout, now strung through their 
gills by a willow. Could he give them to the new 
boy to be used as a peace offering to his mother? 
for he felt sure that the boy would be punished for 
getting his clothes wet. 

"Say, want some fish?" 

"No, thank you," said William Wallace. 

"Well, ye can have them. These are hardly 
worth bringing home to our big family, besides, 
I can catch some more. Better take 'em." He held 
them out to the boy. 

William Wallace took them, with thanks. The 



18 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



folks were stirring at the school house. Uncle Josiah 
had called on some of the neighbors for suggestions as 
to the likely whereabouts of his nephew. Aunt 
Martha stood on the steps, looking anxiously about. 

The two boys slipped through the gate, but Ned 
lingered near the fence, ready for retreat to safety, 
should there be any need for flight. Aunt Martha 
gazed in surprise at the boy before her, looking as if 
he had waded waste deep in the river to catch the 
fish dangling from the willow branch in his hand. 

"William Wallace Jones, where have you been?" 
demanded the woman. 

"Just for a walk, down to the river, an' — " 

"Well, how did you get so wet? Did you fall 
in the river?'* 

Evidently, there was no saving grace for him in 
the offering of fish. He looked toward his companion 
for the promised help. 

"I pushed him in," volunteered Ned from a safe 
distance. "It wasn't his fault." 

Just then Uncle Josiah and one of the neighbors 
came up. They heard Ned's confession, and saw him 
immediately after take to his bare legs up the road. 
The neighbor laughed good-naturedly at the wet boy, 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 19 



slapped him on the back, and asked him how he Hked 
his introduction to Springtown. 

WiUiam Wallace might have felt very much ag- 
grieved over his treatment at the hands of Ned Fisher 
that morning, but somehow, he did not. He rather 
liked the new acquaintance; so when the neighbor 
repeated his question, Will replied: 

"Champion!" 

As the neighbor had never been in England he 
did not know that this exclamation meant in plain 
western American, ''Bully", or in the more proper 
English, "Very well, thank you." 



^.A'>t 



« 0*1 




CHAPTER TWO 

In Which some more of the Boys of Springtown Are 

Introduced and We Get Better Acquainted 

with Aunt Martha. 



About a month after the arrival of the English 
boy, a group of boys was sitting on the hitching pole 
in front of the Springtown store. This was a favorite 
gathering place, it being somewhat in the center of 
the village and also an advantageous point of obser- 
vation for whatever might be going on. That after- 
noon no teams were tied to the pole and no men were 
lounging by, so the boys had their perch all to them- 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 21 



selves; and there were seven of them, sitting all in a 
row like so many chattering magpies on a fence. 

William Wallace Jones, now usually called Will, 
was the last to arrive. Ned Fisher made room for 
him. Ned had taken him under his patronizing care, 
which had given him a prestige with the boys which 
otherwise he would not have acquired so readily. 

And as they are all balancing so comfortably on 
that hitching pole, it might be a good time to intro- 
duce these boys, if only by name. 

Usually, there is some accounting for names, but 
sometimes there isn't. 

Will Jones, boy number one, having already oc- 
cupied most of Chapter One, needs but little more 
said of him; only that he was fast acquiring the ways 
of the boys about him, being nearly as much a Spring- 
town boy as those who had lived there all their lives. 
His overalls and his bare legs evidenced the fact that 
he was being acclimated. 

Ned Fisher sat next to Will. Ned was one of the 
recognized leaders in the Springtown boy-world. 
He was given to "bossing", but, as a rule, he was quite 
fair both in fight or frolic. How Charles Thomas 
Fisher, the boy's name, came to be shortened to Ned, 



22 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



has never yet come to light. He was always known 
among the boys as Ned. 

Next to Ned sat James Brown. Fate and the 
boys permitted him to be called Jim. 

Slim Larsen perched next to Jim. His name in 
the roll book at school was plain Nels, short enough, 
surely, to suit the most exacting for brevity. He 
might have been permitted to carry his good Danish 
name had it not been for the fact that he was a short, 
plump chap, and someone at a psychological moment 
had called him Slim. Nels' mother had strenuously 
objected to this new name, not realizing that the 
harder one tries to pull away, a nick-name, the faster 
it sticks. 

The next boy was Richard Johnson. H<^ had a 
narrow escape from being permanently called "^'' 
During the early stages of his learning to play n.. 
bles, he had acquired the habit of saying ''slips" 
whenever he made a poor shot. The boys had re- 
sented this effort to cover up bad markmanship by 
sometimes calling him Slips. However, just now, the 
rightful Dick was on the ascendency. 

The boy next to Dick had a grandfather named 
Zephaniah, who, according to all reports, was a very 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 23 



good man. Wishing to honor this parent and per- 
chance to pass on his goodness to a grandson, the 
parents had named the boy Zephaniah. Although 
this name gave itself splendidly to calling when his 
mother summoned him from his play to chop wood, 
it was altogether too long and high-sounding for the 
boys, who liked Zeph better, as also did the boy him- 
self. 

John Johns sat next. He had been born of and 
christened by good Welsh parents who did not real- 
ize that the chief reason for a name is ^hat it might 
help to distinguish qu^ person from another. The 
boys, however, corrected this Welsh sameness by 
calling him Jack. 

Anid'SO in all this naming, the boys of Spring- 
^^''^^ .ao all boys do, came to the root of the matter 
, r-.^ave names to persons and things about them 
in the natural, primitive way in which all names had 
their beginning — and who shall quarrel with them for 
this? 

A wagon came rattling down the road. The 
boys paused in their chatter to see which one of them 
would be pushed off to give room for the tie-rope; 
but the driver stopped at the post office instead. 



24 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

"Say, Will," asked one of the boys, "how big is 
a ship?" 

Will was an authority on ships. All the boys 
listened. Ships v/ere interesting things. 

"Well, the one I came on was a big one", de- 
clared Will. 

"How big?" 

It was hard to explain. Will looked about for 
some object of comparison. 

"As big as the store?" 

"Bigger." 

The boys grunted disbelievingly. 

"Was you sick?" 

"Naw." 

"Was it a sailing ship or a steamer?" 

"Steamer." 

"How long was you on the sea?" 

"About two weeks." 

"Shucks, my grandfather was six weeks when 
he came over." 

"Say, what do they have to eat on board ships?" 

"Do they have cows, an' milk?" 

"Was it stormy?" 

"How high are the waves?" 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 25 



Zeph only had not asked a question. His mind 
was not on the distant sea, but on something nearer 
home. It was his turn to ask: 

"Say, boys, do you know the Indians are campin' 
again across the river?'' 

"No! are they?" 

"Yep. I was over there yesterday, an' say — " 

The boys shd down from their perch and gather- 
ed more closely about Zeph who also jumped down. 
They all went across the road to the ditch bank and 
sat down. 

"I think it's the same band that was here last 
summer," continued Zeph; "an' ye know, they was 
a wild lot." 

"Let's go over tomorrow," suggested Jim. 

"Let's," repeated a number. 

Some of the boys had their doubts whether or 
not they could go. Will being among them. When 
pressed for a reason why, he explained that he had to 
work. 

"Work!" a number shouted in derision. "Will's 
got to work!" 

It should be explained that the Jones family 
had moved out of the school house and now occupied 



26 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



a small dwelling not far from Ned Fisher^s home. 
Here was a small lot to till. Potatoes had been plant- 
ed, and they were now in a condition to be hoed, 
which was the work mentioned by Will. School was 
now out, and the boys were reveling in the lengthen- 
ing summer days. Work? well, one might as well 
think of harnessing up a young colt. 

"Say, do ye remember when the big Injun came 
right into town with his gun?" asked Slim. 

"Yes, an' some of the kids was scared/' 

"I should say. Why, Georgie Small ran an' hid 
in the willows back of the house, an' his mother 
couldn't find him for a long time." 

"Well, them Indians are supposed to be tame," 
said Zeph with an air of superior knowledge, "but 
ye can't depend on 'em. Why Jef Redden said he 
knew they stole his horses last year, an' ye know — " 

"Zeph-a-ni-ah!" came rolling in distinct and 
emphatic syllables from across the Stephens' lot. 
Zeph instantly arose, and without saying anything 
further about his own bravery, which the boys knew 
was coming, he trotted down the dusty road toward 
home. Some of the boys laughed at Zeph's sudden 
departure. They knew the reason, and they were 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 27 



enjoying to the full their mothers' leniency in letting 
them remain on the ditch-bank a little longer. 

When the boys parted for the night Ned went 
along with Will. Ned's fondness for the English boy 
had grown ever since that first meeting by and in the 
river. He chummed with him, that being easier be- 
cause of the nearness of their homes. 

"Gee, I wish you could go with us tomorrow," 
said Ned. 

"I'll ask Aunt Martha," replied Will as he went 
in the house. 

Ned stopped at the gate as was his custom. He 
had never yet ventured in the house. A whistle 
from the sidewalk always brought Will out if it were 
possible for him to come. Now Ned waited patiently 
in silence for some time. Presently, Will reappeared. 

"Can ye go?" asked Ned. 

"I don't know yet. Come in." 

"No; I don't want to." Ned held back. 

"Oh, come on in; Aunt Martha says you're to." 

Ned hesitated. He said he must be going home. 

"Come on", urged Will. "Only Aunt Martha's 
home, an' she wont hurt you. She wants to see you, 
she says, an' maybe she'll let me go if you'll come in." 



28 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



A sense of importance helped to overcome Ned's 
timidity. He followed his friend into the house. He 
looked about him in surprise. The last time he had 
been in that room was when it was empty and desert- 
ed and dirty. Now everything was neat and clean 
and cosy. Aunt Martha said, "How do you do?" 
and Will gave him a chair. 

"William Wallace has been asking me if he might 
go with you boys tomorrow" began Aunt Martha; 
"but I wanted to know how he was going to hoe the 
potatoes and at the same time run wild with a lot of 
lazy boys. He couldn't tell me; perhaps you can." 

Ned was dumb at this. He wished he was safely 
out of the house again. The woman stood looking 
at him as if she expected him to answer. Ned hung 
his head. She must be terribly angry, he thought; 
but when he timidly glanced up at her, he saw some- 
thing like a smile on her face. 

"Do you want William Wallace to go with you?" 
she asked. 

Ned managed to say that he did. 

"Well, there is a way he might be able to go." 

"What's that?" cried Will. 

"Why, by having the potatoes hoed first". She 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 29 



was still looking at Ned as if her words were intended 
solely for him. "If / wanted very much to have some- 
one go with me, Td do something to help him. Four 
boys with four hoes can do as much in one hour as 
one boy with one hoe can do in four hours," she said 
as if repeating a problem in arithmetic. She then 
turned to Will as if she were through with the matter. 
"I nearly forgot. Here's a letter from your mother." 
She handed the boy a letter addressed to him, and 
therefore, unopened. Will took it to the window near 
which Ned was sitting, opened the letter, and silent- 
ly read it. 

**Well, what does she say?" asked Aunt Martha. 
"Read it to me." 

Will held out the letter to her, but she did not 
take it. 

"The light is too poor," she explained, "I cannot 
see." 

The boy, somewhat reluctantly, read : 

" Now, my boy, I hope you are well, and 

that you are enjoying yourself in your new home. 
Do what Uncle Josiah and Aunt Martha want you 
to. Some day you will more fully appreciate how 
blessed you are in living in Zion. Your father has 



30 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



been out of work for some time, and he is not well; 
but the Lord is good to us, and we are able to live. 
My constant prayer is that I might some day come 
to you, so that I might live with my hoy a little while 
yet before he becomes a man. God bless you and keep 
you from evil. Remember the Lord in your prayers, 
and do not forget your father and mother " 

The reader stopped. Perhaps the light was too 
dim. The room was very quiet for a few moments. 
Ned could see that Will was going to cry, although 
he was trying hard not to, so he edged quietly to the 
door and slipped out. Then Will did cry. 

Aunt Martha busied herself with supper. When 
it was ready she and Gwennie and Will sat down and 
ate their bread and milk. Uncle Josiah was not with 
them as his work took him away from home much of 
the time. The little girl prattled, the mother smiled 
contentedly, but Will was silent. He really was 
homesick. He longed for his mother; and the dim, 
dirty streets of Liverpool did not seem so bad after 
all. He finished his bowl, however, and did not re- 
fuse the cookie for dessert. When the meal was end- 
ed, Aunt Martha said: 

"All right, my boy. As you want to get up early 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 31 



in the morning to begin on the potatoes, you had 
better go to bed now. Take your letter with you and 
put it in your box. You will want to read it again 
some day. Now, good night", and she patted him 
gently on the head. 

Will went up to the well- ventilated attic where 
was his bed. Before he fell asleep he saw through 
the glassless window the stars come out one by one 
into the clear, dark-blue sky; and then, ere he was 
aware, the frogs in the nearby meadow had sung 
him off to the land of dreamless sleep. 





I 



'tll'^''^--'^^' 







CHAPTER THREE 

In Which the Springtown Gun-cluh Has an Outing, 
to Which is Added an Adventure with the Indians. 

Aunt Martha's little problem in arithmetic 
worked out correctly, for next morning three boys 
with their hoes came into the lot where Will was 
working, ranged themselves alongside, and plied their 
tools vigorously. Aunt Martha looked out at them 
once in a while to see that the work was done right. 
Just before noon, they had gone over the whole patch, 
and they came strutting up to the house with a self- 
satisfied air. Aunt Martha invited them to sit on 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 33 



the porch and rest while she brought from the kitch- 
en a pan of newly-baked, sweet-smelHng cookies 
which she placed right under their noses. She 
looked at Ned Fisher with a gracious smile, and said : 

"I thought you would do it. Now, you may 
have the first cake.'' 

Ned did not understand the full extent of the 
first part of this remark; but there was no question 
regarding what she meant by the latter part. The 
cookies were passed around once, twice, then Aunt 
Martha suggested that if they ate any more, they 
would spoil their appetite for dinner. She further 
suggested that the remaining cakes be placed in a 
bag and taken along on their afternoon trip. 

Shortly after noon. Will Jones, Ned Fisher, Jim 
Brown, and Dick Johnson were on their way across 
the river to visit the Indian camp. Zeph (though 
yesterday's chief promoter of the trip ) and a num- 
ber of others had failed them for various reasons, 
chief of which was that they had not accepted Ned's 
invitation to meet that morning with their hoes in 
Will's potato patch. Huh! They didn't have to hoe 
potatoes, so they had kept away altogether. 

Ever since Ned Fisher could remember, it had 



34 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



been his ambition to own a gun. There were ducks to 
shoot in the swamps near the river and there were 
sage-hens in the hills. Some of the older hunters of 
Springtown told wonderful tales of deer and bear up 
in the mountains, but Ned's fondest dreams had not 
yet reached to such game. 

Ned now had a shot-gun. A week ago he had 
traded for it with Blacksmith Goodall, giving in 
exchange ten fairly good, second-hand horse shoes 
and one discarded wagon tire. The horse shoes 
usually brought five cents each from the smith, while 
the tire was perhaps worth ten cents. To be sure, 
this gun was not in the best of condition. The barrel 
was rusty, the stock had a big crack in it, the hammer 
would not hold up, and there was no ramrod. These 
minor defects were soon overcome by the enthusiastic 
owner and his willing assistants. The barrel was 
scrubbed, inside and out, until it fairly shone. A wire 
was made to hold the stock together. A ramrod was 
easy to make from a piece of hickory which they found 
in the rubbish heap at the back of the blacksmith 
shop. A cow's horn was made into a powder flask, 
and Ned's marble bag held a small supply of shot. 

The boys had the gun, with all that went with it, 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 36 



that afternoon. There had been some discussion 
whether it would be wise to take along such a weapon 
when visiting Indians. The Redmen might think 
the fire-arm was meant for them, when in fact, it 
was only to shoot sage-hens, should any be seen. 
"Anyway," Ned had said, "it might be a good thing 
to have a gun along in case the Indians became 
'sassy'." At hearing this remark, Jim didn't know 
whether he could go or not. His mother 

Ned looked at Jim and laughed so goodnatur- 
edly that the boy's courage came back — likewise that 
of William Wallace Jones. Had Aunt Martha known 
that they were to have a gun along, he was sure she 
would not have given him permission to go. 

It was Ned's unquestionable right as owner to 
carry the gun, but he graciously permitted the other 
boys to carry the armament. They went on down 
the lane, across the meadow to the river. 

"Le' me carry the gun," pleaded Dick. 

"It's heavy", objected Ned. 

"Shucks, I can carry it easy." 

"You might hurt yourself." 

"Taint loaded, is it?" 

"No; but — here, you can carry the ramrod." 



86 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



The river was rising to its annual spring flood, 
and the foot-bridge which spanned the stream 
trembled under their feet. Safely across, they climbed 
to a small table-land covered with choke-cherry 
bushes. They inspected the growing crop of berries, 
and planned for picking trips later. 

"There ought to be some chickens here/' re- 
marked Dick. 

"Yes/' agreed Ned. Let's look out for them." 

They walked about stealthily. Will did not say 
much. This was a new experience for him, and he 
was content to follow the leadership of those who 
seemed to know all about the game. 

"Say," whispered Jim, "There's something 
over there on that bush. See." 

They all looked carefully. 

"Shucks, that's a robin," said Ned. 

"Well, why don't ye shoot it?" 

"Shoot a robin. I guess not. What're you 
talking about?" This was said with such scorn that 
the subject was dropped. 

Then, after a time. Will ventured: "Suppose you 
see a chicken. Is your gun loaded?" 

No; it wasn't. They all laughed foolishly. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 37 



*'We're a lot of sillies," suggested Ned; whereupon 
they proceeded to load the gun. First, the proper 
amount of powder was poured into the barrel and 
rammed down with newspaper wadding. Then the 
shot was run in and fastened with more of the paper, 
after which the cap was placed on the priming tube. 

"Now, you boys stay back of me," admonished 
the gun bearer. 

They stalked about among the bushes for a time. 

"Sh — ! there's a sage-hen." 

Ned tiptoed toward the bush indicated, and sure 
enough, there a sage-hen could be seen. The excite- 
ment became tense. Ned motioned for the boys to 
be still while he crept up within easy range. His 
finger touched the trigger, then he carefully lifted 
the hammer. Gee! The fact suddenly came to him 
that the hammer would not stay up! He could not 
aim, hold up the hammer, and pull the trigger at the 
same time. He must have help; he beckoned for one 
of the boys to come. Jack crept softly to him. Ned 
whispered his instructions to him; he was to hold 
up the hammer while Ned sighted the gun. "An' 
don't let go till I tell ye." 

When it came to aiming the gun, Ned found to 



S8 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



his dismay that he could not close his left eye while 
he sighted with his right. Everything became a blur 
when he tried to look along the barrel with both eyes. 
The sage-hen was unaware of danger. With Jack's 
help to hold up both the gun and the hammer, Ned 
managed to relieve one hand long enough to press his 
fingers against his left eye and thus make aiming 
clear. Jack was becoming nervous, and he was in 
danger of releasing the hammer before he was told. 
The gun wabbled considerably. The marksman had 
to open both eyes a number of times during all this 
maneuvering to see if the sage-hen was still on the 
perch. Yes, the bird was very patient with the boys. 

At last Ned saw the object of their aim straight 
along the barrel. ''Let 'er go," he said. 

There was a loud report, a cloud of smoke, and 
two boys tumbled over backwards. A flock of sage- 
hens flew out of the bush. 

Will and Jim came running up. "Did ye hit 
her?" they shouted. The four boys sped fonvard. 
The hen at which they had shot should have been 
lying dead under the branch on which it had been 
sitting, but it wasn't. The boys were very much dis- 
appointed, and Ned especially was inclined to blame 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 39 



somebody else for the failure to bring down the game. 
They looked about, and there, quite on the other side 
of the bush at which they had been shooting, lay a 
sage-hen. Ned picked it up. It flopped faintly once 
or twice, and then became limp. 

Indians were forgotten. With such success in 
hunting, what was a mere visit to an Indian camp! 
There might be more sage-hens to kill. They loaded 
the gun again and walked for a long time over the 
bench-land; but they saw no more game. 

From the edge of the bench they looked down on 
a small creek bottom, a tributary of the river, where 
the Indian camp was located. They counted five 
tents or "wikiups", from two of which smoke was 
curling. Some horses were grazing nearby, and a 
number of Indian women and children could be seen 
moving about. 

As the boys stood looking at the camp, the 
question of whether or not to take the gun with them, 
came up again. 

"Where could we leave it?" asked Ned. 

"We might hide it in some bushes.'' 

"And have some one find it and claim it. Not 
much," objected the owner. 



40 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

"The chicken will show what we brought the 
gun for/' suggested Jim; and as this appealed to them 
all, both the gun and the game were carried boldly 
into the Indian camp. 

In those days it was the custom nearly every 
summer for a small party of Indians to camp for 
some time near the village. Seemingly, the main 
purpose of their annual visit was that the squaws 
might call at the doors and beg for "sooger" and 
"biscuit". Certainly, they had no evil designs nor 
dispositions, notwithstanding some of the fears of the 
children and the talk of the boys. 

There was always a degree of fascinating awe to 
the boys about a visit to an Indian camp. As the 
boys looked about, the Indians sometimes scowled 
at them and made gi-uff noises as though they were 
displeased, and considered the boys intruders. This 
afternoon as the boys inspected the tents at re- 
spectable distances they saw strips of red meat hanging 
about to dry, and the squaws were busy cleaning and 
scraping skins. A deer had no doubt been recently 
killed. A number of half-naked "papooses" were 
running about. At the near approach of the boys, 
they scurried to their mothers who looked up uncon- 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 41 



cerned at their visitors, then said something, no 
doubt by way of admonition, to the children. 

In one of the tents they saw a number of Indians 
sitting about a cleared space on the floor, playing 
some kind of game. A droning noise accompanied 
their movements. 

"What are they doing?'^ asked Will. 

"Gambling", repHed Ned. "an' they're ugly 
when they gamble." 

The Indians saw the boys watching them, and 
they seemed to cease their game. They said some- 
thing to each other, and then one of them arose, and 
pulHng his blanket about him, came to where the boys 
were standing, now somewhat frightened. 

"What you want?" asked the Indian. 

"Nothing — we-re just visitin'," replied Ned. 

"Huh! You Bishop's boy?" questioned the In- 
dian, pointing to Ned. 

"No," said Ned. 

"What got?" He looked at the dead sage-hen 
which evidently did not interest him. Then he 
reached for the gun. "Me see", he said. 

Ned, with quaking heart, handed the Indian his 
gun. Was he merely going to keep it, or was he going 



42 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

to use it on them? The Indian looked the weapon 
over, then with a contemptous grunt, he handed it 
back. 

"No good," he said as he turned and rejoined 
his companions, much to the reHef of the boys, who 
now went on to where a squaw sat working beads on 
some moccasins. The boys of Springtown beHeved 
that all beads came from the Indians, who by some 
mysterious process of manufacture, supplied the 
world with these articles of ornamentation. It oc- 
curred to Dick that now would be a good time to get 
a supply of beads, so he approached the squaw, busy 
with her sewing, held out his hand, and said : 

"Beads." 

The woman merely looked up and grunted 
mildly. 

"Give beads," he repeated. 

The squaw caught sight of the bag of cookies 
which Dick carried. She became curious. She looked 
steadily at it, then pointed to it, then asked: 

"What?" 

"Oh, they're cookies", said Dick. 

"Biscuit? Let see." 

Dick, to the astonishment of Ned and Jim, gave 



THE BOYS OF SFRINGTOWN. 43 



the squaw the bag. She looked in, then took out a 
cookie, and began to eat it. 

"Heap wino," she seemed to say as she finished 
one cake and took out another. 

"Beads," pleaded Dick. Surely she would give 
him some beads for the cookies. 

"Say," began Ned protestingly ; he did not care 
for beads as much as he did for something good to 

eat. "Say!" 

But just then there came a strange noise from up 
the ravine, and presently, there appeared three In- 
dians on horses, riding at a gallop, their blankets 
flying in the breeze. The Indians whooped lustily 
as they came on toward the boys. 

All the tales of wild Indians which the boys had 
ever read or heard came to them. For a moment 
they stood rooted to the spot, then they turned and 
dashed down toward the river and home. Though 
Ned held tightly his precious gun and Jim clung on 
to the sage-hen, they led the retreat, with Will and 
Dick close at their heels. It is hardly to be expected 
that twelve and fourteen year old boys can beat the 
tough Indian ponies, but the truth is that after five 
minutes running, the boys had outdistanced their 



44 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



pursuers. They covered the distance to the bridge 
in record time; and it was not until they had reached 
the village side of the river that they stopped to rest 
and talk in bated breaths of their narrow escape. 

However, the boys did not see the three Indians 
who had been in the chase now standing by their 
ponies and talking to the squaw who had been sew- 
ing beads on moccasins. They were smihng good- 
naturedly — if Indians can smile — as each of them 
munched a cookie. 




CHAPTER FOUR 



Wherein the Boys Embark on a Voyage of Discovery 
and Take Possession of Their Findings. 

"I have learned," said Aunt Martha to her 
neighbor, Mrs. Fisher, ''that boys hoe potatoes best 
when the rows are short, and they pick potatoes best 
when the buckets are small." 

The two women were having a chat across the 
partition fence, about their family affairs. Ned was 
only one out of six of Mrs. Fisher's cares and prob- 
lems. 

"Boys," continued Aunt Martha, "are only a 



46 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



little more human than men and women. There is 
nothing quite so discouraging as to begin a task to 
which there is no visible end. We all need endings 
and new beginnings in our work, and that, I have 
no doubt, is the reason why the Lord broke up the 
days into periods of seven, and appointed the seventh 
as a day of rest. 
y "I asked the Bishop once," remarked Mrs. Fish- 
er, "whether the law of the Sabbath was not made 
before the creation of woman, or rather before she 
was thought of." 

"Yes; what did he say to that?" 
i "He only laughed." 

"Well, ril say for my man, he's very considerate. 
But what I wanted to speak to you about was our 
boys. William Wallace and your boy Ned are to- 
gether nearly all the time. I don't object to that, 
but I think they should have some work to do each 
day, before they, with the other boys, begin their 
play. 'All play and no work, makes Jack a dull 
shirk'." 

"And I've noticed," said Mrs. Fisher, "that my 
Ned works better in your lot and your boy Will 
works better in ours." ^ 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 47 



'Tes, that's another bit of boy nature which we 
cannot check, but must take advantage of, by letting 
the boys work together on their various tasks,'' re- 
marked Aunt Martha. 

The neighbors came closer together. Mrs. 
Fisher agreed with Mrs. Jones, but she was at a loss 
how to get at the problem. Mrs. Jones made some 
suggestions which could be carried out, and which 
had in them the idea of giving the boys some definite 
tasks each day, not too long and with something of 
encouragement at the close. 

And thus it came about that the boys' excursions 
and doings at home and away were usually limited 
to the afternoons after the morning tasks had been 
done. At first, some of the boys gambled a little 
at this new and fast ruling, but soon they discovered 
that the fun in the afternoons was much better be- 
cause of the work in the mornings. 

It was now the period of high water in the river, 
when its swift, brown current overflowed the banks 
and filled the lowlands with muddy ponds. This 
year, there was a tie-float in the river; that is, a com- 
pany of men had chopped a large number of rail-road 
ties up among the forests at the head-waters of the 



48 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



river, and were now floating them down to where they 
could be loaded on the railroad cars. 

The passing of this tie-float by Springtown was 
always a time of interest to the boys. Ties could be 
seen shooting down the river some days before the 
men came. Some of them would lodge on sand-bars 
or circle about in sheltered pools until so many had 
collected that there would be a jam. Then the men 
would come, dressed in hip boots and red flannel 
shirts, and with long, spiked poles dislodge the ties 
and send them on down the current. Sometimes the 
men would have to jump from ties to ties at the risk 
of falling into the water, and the boys could readily 
see that much skill and bravery were needed in this 
work. Zeph said he was going to be tie-man, and some 
of the smaller boys envied his nearer approach to such 
a wonderful career. 

The men would camp on the banks of the river 
at the place where night overtook them. That sum- 
mer the camp was made at Springtown, and the boys 
turned out in force to watch the fires over which 
swung big kettles wherein boiled and baked the men's 
supper. The boys, alas, could feast only with their 
eyes as they saw the men sit about the fire and eat. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 49 



The next afternoon when the boys arrived at the 
river, the ties and the men were out of sight and 
reach, and so the boys had to content themselves 
with looking about. At a point a short distance above 
the island, they found two big ties, firmly lodged and 
safely hidden behind some bushes. It was generally 
understood that such leavings became the property 
of the finder. At least four boys saw these ties at the 
same time, and so, to avoid any disputes as to owner- 
ship, it was agreed that they should be the common 
property of them all. 

What could be done with them? Ah, what 
couldn't be done? First, however, they would have 
to be dislodged, as the water was falling, and soon 
they would be high and dry. 

"Robinson Crusoe made a boat out of a tree," 
said Will," and when it was finished he couldn't get 
it to the water. We don't want to be in that fix." 

"Who was Robinson Crusoe?" asked one of them. 

"Well, don't you know?" replied another. "He 
lived on an island." ' 

Will had been looking at the island in mid- 
streams. He wanted to go to it. The spirit of the 
navigator came to him. Often he had watched the 



50 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



big ocean liners glide up the Mersey and lay up to 
the Liverpool dock. There was fascination about a 
floating craft. 

"Let's make a raft out of the ties and go over to 
the island," suggested Will. 

The boys readily agreed. They had never been 
to the island, and the idea of floating to it was novel. 
How could they do it? 

Will explained. They would first have to float 
the ties into still, shallow water. Then they would 
get some boards and nail them across the ties. This 
would make a "dandy" raft on which they could sail 
to the island and take possession of it and explore it 
as Robinson Crusoe had done. 

Some of the boys were dispatched for boards, 
some for nails and a hammer and a piece of rope. 
By the time Will and Ned had pried the ties loose 
into the water, the boys returned laden with boards 
of all sizes and conditions and nails in all stages of 
rustiness. The ship-building progressed with great 
enthusiasm, and it was not long before the craft was 
pronounced finished. It was found that four of the 
boys could safely board it. Who should make the 
trial trip? Will, of course, should be one, having had 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 61 



experience with boats and water travel. Three 
others made up the crew. Each supplied himself 
with a long pole, and the craft was pushed out into 
the stream toward the island, the other boys following 
and shouting gleefully from the bank. Will Jones, 
Captain and Pilot, directed the boys to steer into 
the little harbor he had noted even on the morning 
of his first visit to the river. Soon the raft grated on 
the sandy beach and the boys leaped ashore with 
a cheer. 

'This is Peaceful Bay," said Will Jones, with 
the true instinct of a discoverer; and as he climbed 
up to the highest point of the island, he declared: 
"and this is Point Lookout.'* As the raft seemed 
slow in coming back, the boys on the bank shouted 
that they wanted to go over also. Three trips 
brought the whole company safely to the island. 

From Point Lookout a tiny meadow sloped west- 
ward. On one side a few willows cast their shade, 
on the other side the main channel of the river rushed 
by. Later in the summer, the httle harbor would 
make a fine bathing pool. The boys lay contentedly 
on the grass. 

''Say, this is a dandy place, isn't it?" remarked 
one. 



52 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

"Let's make a camp here", suggested another. 
"We can make a willow house." 
"There ain't enough willows on the island." 
"Besides, we want them to grow for shade." 
"We can bring some willows from the bank on 
the raft." 

"Sure," they all chorused. 
But as they were not prepared for further build- 
ing operations that afternoon, the boys had to be con- 
tent with planning their work for tomorrow, and then 
rafting themselves back to the main-land. 

The next afternoon more boys were on hand to 
take part in the activities on the island. Out of the 
eight present, there were six bosses, and each of these 
tried by the use of lung power to establish his claim to 
leadership. Among these who might rightly be called 
guests were Charley Voss, a cripple, and his dog, 
Sport, and nine-year old Bose Rankin. Sport, though 
belonging to Charley, readily came at the beck and 
call of any of the boys, so he was looked upon as com- 
mon property. 

By the middle of the afternoon, the willows had 
been cut, transported to the island, and made into a 
shelter as nearly like an Indian "wickiup" as pos- 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 53 



sible. It was shady and cool within, and the boys 
stretched themselves in luxurious ease on its grassy 
carpet. 

''We ought to have a fire," was suggested. 

"It's warm enough without one," said Will. 

"But, it's not a camp without a fire, is it?" 

^No; of course not." 

There was some discussion whether to make the 
fire inside the tent or outside. It was more in keep- 
ing with the wild life they were living to have a fire 
within the tent, but the majority were satisfied to 
sacrifice realism for comfort, so the fire was made a 
few feet from the shelter so that those who reclined 
within could look out and see it. 

After the boys had rested and talked for a time, 
they become aware of a continual barking of Sport 
from the direction of Peaceful Bay. Perhaps the 
dog saw "something", whereupon there was a general 
movement to Point Lookout. From that elevation 
they saw that Charley Voss and his dog were on the 
raft which Zeph Stevens was alternately pushing out 
some distance from the shore with a pole and then 
pulHng back by the rope. The dog was barking loud- 
ly, while the boy was crying and pleading with his 



54 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

tormentor. Most of the boys laughed with Zeph at 
the fun he was having; but somehow, Ned didn't 
like what the bigger boy was doing. Ned went down 
to the water and said to Zeph: 

"Let him alone." 

Zeph went on teasing. 

"You let him alone," repeated Ned. "Pick on 
somebody your size." 

"Oh, you go 'long." 

The boys were interested. Zeph was the biggest 
boy there, and they all knew that Ned was no match 
for him if it came to a fight. What could Ned do? 
But Ned persisted. He grabbed the rope and at- 
tempted to take it from the larger boy, who exclaim- 
ed: 

"Say, get out o' here! What ye mean? Let go." 

"I won't, an' you can't make me. You quit 
scaring Charley, you — you big coward." 

Zeph flushed. "I'll Hck you good fer that," he 
said. 

"Then you'll have to whip me, too," said Will as 
he ranged himself alongside of Ned. "I think you're 
mean to tease a cripple." 

There was a silence for a moment among them. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 55 



Then the boys shouted. Of course, the two boys were 
in the right, for Zeph couldn't whip both of them. 
Zeph muttered and let go the rope which also slipped 
from Ned's hands. The raft drifted slowly out to- 
ward the current in the river. Charley cried the 
louder while the dog only whined. 

The boys became exicted. In a few minutes 
Charley would be in real danger. Then Ned rolled 
up his overalls and waded out after the raft. It was 
only a matter of getting his legs wet and the roll in 
his overalls soaked. Ned soon had the rope again and 
Charley and Sport were safely landed. 

But the matter was not yet settled. Someone 
had offended, and had not been punished. Something 
was imperfect, something was lacking in the scheme 
of things. The boys seemed to feel it, though they 
knew not what to say or do about it. Zeph tried to 
laugh it off, but the boys did not respond. They all 
went back to the willow lodge, Charley keeping close 
to Ned, and the dog close at the heels of his master. 
The conversation lagged. 

"I think Zeph has done wrong," began Ned, 
"and he ought to 'pologize." 

Zeph began to talk of something else, but Ned 
continued: 



56 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"I read once in a story where some men were 
cast on an island, an' they had to make laws, an* 
'lect officers. We're like that when we're here. 

''Sure." The idea appealed to them. 

"I think Zeph ought to be 'rested and tried," 
suggested Slim. 

"I motion that Dick be the pohceman," said one. 

"I motion that Will be the judge," cried another. 

"All in favor raise their hands — your 'lected." 

''Zeph Stevens, you're 'rested" said the police- 
man. 

The judge tried to look solemn and wise. He 
knew nothing about court procedure, but as he knew 
all the facts, he immediately passed judgment. 
"Zeph Stephens," he said, "you are guilty, and you 
are fined a quarter." 

"Haint got a quarter," rephed the prisoner; 
"wouldn't give it if I had." 

"In place of the quarter, which would have been 
handy to buy some things for our camp, you can give 
your pocket knife," pronounced the judge. 

"I won't." 

"Or be ducked three times in the river. That is 
the law of this island." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 57 



Zeph again tried to treat it all as a joke, but the 
boys stood firmly by the law and the judge. With 
Ned and Will as leaders, they could easily give- the 
boastful Zeph a ducking. They made ready to do it, 
when Zeph weakened. He pulled out his knife and 
handed it to Will, who offered it to Charley. 

''I don't want it," said he. ''I only want him to 
leave me alone.'' 

*'Will you promise to do that?" asked Will of 
Zeph. 

"Of course." 

"Now and always?" 

"Sure." 

"Well, then, it's all right. Here, take your 
knife." 

And thus the balance of things was restored, and 
the boys were all jolly good fellows again as if 
nothing unpleasant had ever happened. 







CHAPTER FIVE 



In Which the Boys of Springtown Conduct a Story- 
telling Contest, 

The water in the river was clear and warm, fine 
for bathing. Peaceful Bay made an ideal swimming 
hole, and the boys made good use of it. They would 
"wet over", then splash about for a time, and then 
crawl up on the sunny sand bank and "dry off". 
Sometimes this would be repeated half a dozen times 
during an afternoon, so that when their clothes went 
on for the day, the boys would appear pretty well 
washed out. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 59 



Frequently, when resting from the afternoon's 
strenuous bathing, they would tell each other stories. 
A number of the boys were readers of dime novels 
which they had obtained from the larger boys, who 
had bought them at Wanda. These thrilling tales 
were circulated among the boys who cared for reading. 
As a rule, the parents did not investigate closely what 
this literature consisted of. It was "reading", and the 
boy had better be quietly reading than to be up to 
some noisy devilment, the parents reasoned. 

The boys soon came to know that the chief in- 
gredients of a dime novel are these: The story is laid 
in the wild West. The characters are the hero, a 
brave young man from the East; the heroine, a beau- 
tiful girl; an old trapper, who is also a philosopher; 
a renegade (bad) white man; Indians; cowboys, good 
and bad. The beautiful girl is captured by the bad 
white man, aided by the Indians. The hero gives 
chase over plains and hills and deserts, and after a lot 
of fighting, the girl is rescued. Usually, there is a 
gold mine, which in the end, makes the hero rich and 
enables him to marry the girl and pay all the expenses 
of such an extravagant adventure. 

By a little shifting of scenes and characters, the 



60 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



boys of Springtown could tell these tales over and 
over. Ned Fisher was not much of a story-teller, but 
Will Jones, as well as some of the others, could spin 
out a yarn endlessly. When it came to his turn, the 
boys often accused him of "making up'' the story. 
Not being very well acquainted with the American 
dime novel, Will's stories did not deal with the 
wild, western life. 

Now, an island, with all that pertains to it, had 
always appealed to Will. An island on the map was 
to most of the boys only a black spot in an ocean of 
blue; but to Will, that dot became associated with 
the natives of the South Seas, or with Napoleon at 
St. Helena, or with Robinson Crusoe; and then the 
dry text of the geography changed to a garden of 
charm. Will liked to tell stories of islands, some of 
which he did not deny ''making up out of his own 
head." 

This afternoon Will was telling such a story. 
His hero, one Jack Tarpin, had just been ship- 
wrecked on a South Sea island: 

''Well, Jack he walked up into the land and found 
that the island was inhabited by wild people, savages 
who were nearly naked and who carried long wooden 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 61 



spears. Jack was scared, so he hid in the bushes and 
watched them dancing about in a circle. Pretty soon 
they stopped, and one of them went into a hut and 
brought out a beautiful native maiden. They tied 
the girl to a big stake, and then began to pile up 
brush near her. They were cannibals, and were going 
to kill and eat the girl. Jack could hear her cry. 

"Jack crept slowly forward, thinking how he 
could save the girl. I forgot to say that Jack had a 
gun, but he couldn't kill a whole tribe with it. Pretty 
soon, they seemed ready to kill the girl. The savages 
stood in a circle about her, and they began to make 
a terrible noise. This was to drown the cries of the 
girl as they were killing her. Then one of the savages 
stepped out into the circle with a big club. He walked 
slowly toward the poor victim. Jack raised his gun 
and aimed at the man, and just as he was going to 
strike her. Jack pulled the trigger. 

*'The savage dropped dead. The others saw him, 
but did not know what had killed him. They were 
making so much noise that they didn't hear the report 
of the ^n. Another one of them now stepped into 
the ring with a club, and just as he was going to kill 
the girl, Jack shot him too. Then the cannibals be- 



62 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



came very scared, for this time they heard the shot 
and saw the smoke, so Jack thought it would be a 
good time to rescue the beautiful maiden. He ran 
to her, and with his knife cut the thongs which bound 
her. She said something to him, which, of course, he 
could not understand; and as he was about to leave, 
she followed him. 

Jack fired his gun again, this time into the air, 
to show the savages that he was the one who had 
killed their men. At this, the savages became so 
scared that they ran away. But pretty soon they 
returned, threw down their spears, and lay down on 
their faces before him. He motioned to them to get 
up and bring him something to eat. They brought 
him some cocoanuts and fish, and he gave some of the 
food to the girl. 

"Well, Jack stayed with them and made them be- 
have themselves, and he made them build him a 
house and bring him something to eat each day. The 
girl lived in a hut near by. After a while when he 
could understand her talk, he learned that she was 
the daughter of a king who had lived and reigned on 
another island. The two tribes were at war. This 
tribe had gone to the other island, and in a great 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 63 



battle the king had been killed. The victors had eat- 
en the king because they believed that by eating a 
brave man like the king, they also would become 
brave. 

"Jack was now quite contented and comfor- 
table, living like a king on the island; but the girl 
kept coming to him every day, crying and pointing 
in the direction where she had come from. So Jack 
got the men who were waiting on him to get out their 
biggest canoes and take him and the girl over to the 
next island. At first they refused, but Jack shot off 
his gun and showed them that he could protect them, 
then they were willing to go. 

"Jack found a fine, big island. When the people 
saw their Princess come back alive, they were very 
glad. The Princess pointed to Jack Tarpin as her 
rescuer. Then they shouted and danced and made 
him king instead of their dead and eaten ruler. Then 
Jack married the Princess and reigned for many years 
over the two islands. He made the savages quit 
eating each other, and he made them build better 
houses and wear more clothes; and he made laws and 
roads and schools and wagons. And he had a lot of 
beautiful children, an' — that's all." 



64 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



There was silence for a moment among the 
boys, then one asked: 

"Where is that Island?" 

Will, ignoring the question, turned to Charley 
Voss and told him it was his turn next. Charley, not 
being able to take part with the boys in their manual 
sports, had more time to read and think as well as 
dream about what he read ; so Charley was one of their 
best story-tellers. 

"Once upon a time," he began, "there was a race 
of fairy maidens who flew about in the form of beau- 
tiful white swans. Sometimes they would lay aside 
their fairy dresses to bathe, when, of course, they 
would appear as women. One day a young man saw 
six of these large birds fly down to the river, and he 
thought he would try to find out just what they were. 
So he crept up to where he had seen them alight. 

"In the bushes on the river bank he came across 
what must have been swan-robes. There were no 
swans to be seen. He looked at the feather dresses 
curiously. He picked one of them up and found it 
light and fluffy. He rolled it up tightly, put it in his 
pocket, and carried it away. 

"Pretty soon he saw the swans fly away again, 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 65 



but instead of six there were only five. The young 
man went back to see what had become of the other 
one. There where he had seen the swan-robes he 
found a girl hiding in the rushes by the river. She 
was crying because she had no clothes to put on, and 
was scared. 

" 'Halloo/ said the young man; but the girl hid 
closer in the rushes. 'What's the matter?' he asked. 
'Can I help you?' 

"You see, the young man had no idea the girl 
was one of the swans and that he had her magic robe 
in his pocket. 

" 'Someone has taken my dress/ she said. 'My 
sisters have all gone and left me, and here I am. Ah, 
me! and she cried as if her heart would break. 

"'Well,' said the young man, 'that was a mean 
thing to do; but maybe I can help you. Wait where 
you are and I'll fetch you some clothes', and away he 
ran not heeding the further explanations which she 
wished to make. 

"Pretty soon he came back with a dress which he 
hung on the willows, and then he went away until 
she put it on. When he came back, there she was, 
a beautiful girl with long golden hair, deep blue eyes, 



66 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



rosy cheeks, and teeth like — Hke — well, they were 
milk-white. She was still so frightened that she 
did not know what to do; but the young man talked 
to her gently and told her not to be afraid. She was 
the most be-au-ti-ful girl he had ever seen, and he fell 
in love with her, and took her home to his mother, 
and after a while he married her. 

"Well, they lived together for many years, and 
although they were poor, they were quite happy. 
They had three children. One day while the husband 
was away, the wife happened to look in the bottom 
of his tnmk which he usually kept locked, and there 
she found the swan-robe which she had lost that day 
while she was bathing with her sisters. She lifted the 
dress out, unrolled it, and it came back to the same 
shape it was when she had worn it. If she put it on, 
she would be changed into a beautiful bird and be able 
to fly away through the blue sky to her sisters and get 
away from the hard work which she had to do every 
day. She looked out of the open window, for it was a 
summer day, and the land was green and beautiful. 
Just the other day she and her husband had quarrel- 
led, and she had found fault with him because they 
were so poor And now here was a chance to 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 67 



get away from all this misery. She shook the robe 
again, and it seemed to say, Tut me on." 

*'Just then she heard the children playing out in 
the garden and she looked out at them. The little 
boy was chasing the two girls as they ran among the 
trees. They were laughing and shouting and having 
a good time. They were not very well dressed, and 
the mother had such sl time to keep them clean; but 
they were good children, and she loved them very 
much. The mother looked at them for a long time 

Then the mother folded up the swan-dress 

again and placed it back in her husband's trunk, way 
down in the bottom where she had found it. 

"The wife didn't say anything to her husband 
about what she had found, but she couldn't help 
thinking about the dress nearly every day. 

"One day when times were harder than ever, and 
the mother was working in the garden, she heard a 
cry from overhead which made her look up. She saw 
five large, white swans flying up in the sky. They 
sailed gracefully about in circles, and their cry seemed 
to say to her: ^Sister, come with us, come with us. 
Come away from your hard work. Come and live in 
the warm sunshine and blue sky and cool, green grass. 
Come away from all your cares/ 



68 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

*'And then the woman threw down her hoe and 
went into the house. Her husband was away at his 
work and the children were asleep. She went to her 
husband's trunk, opened it, and took out her swan- 
dress. She looked out into the sky again. Yes; her 
sisters were still there, circling about, waiting for her. 
She shook out the swan-dress until it looked like a 
white cloud. She began to take off her old calico 
dress. Just then the youngest of the children awoke 
and began to cry. The baby had not been well lately. 
Perhaps she also was coming down with the measles. 
The other children had had the measles, and what a 
time the mother had had with them .... She stopped 
for a moment in her undressing, then she went on 
unfastening her dress. 

"Outside the swans were calling; in the other 
room her baby was crying." 

The story-teller stopped. There was tense si- 
lence among the boys. 

"Well," said one. "Go on." 

"That's all," said Charley Voss. 

"All? Taint neither. Go on. What did the 
mother do?" 

"Don't know," replied Charley, shifting his 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 69 



lame leg. "That's just where the story stopped, and 
Pve never been able to find the rest of it/' 

"Gee," said the boys, discontentedly, as they 
arose to go home. 




CHAPTER SIX 

Which Tells How the Boys Played Some Pranks and 
Paid for Them, 

Early in the spring, as soon as a dry spot could 
be found in Springtown, marble-playing began. Then 
when the grass was soft to the bare feet, steal-sticks 
was a favorite game. Back-out was not so strenuous, 
but it had more daring to it. After dark, the boys 
were partial to run-sheep-run. During the ball sea- 
son, there were usually two teams, the first and the 
second nines, which played with the boys from the 
neighboring villages. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 71 



It is not to be supposed, however, that the boys 
of Springtown confined themselves wholly to these 
wholesome games and that they were free from the 
mischievous pranks that boys sometime play. These 
pranks were sometimes in bad taste. Had these boys 
lived in the days of the Boy Scout movement, this 
untamed boy energy would have been directed into 
proper channels. In this chapter will be presented a 
nimiber of escapades which had a special bearing on 
the lives of William Wallace Jones and Ned Fisher. 

Not far from the Fisher home, there lived an old 
Scotchman by the name of O'Neal. He made a 
specialty of chicken-raising. The boys noted how 
spick and span everything about his chicken houses 
appeared, and how he seemed to be always white- 
washing his premises. 

Now, a pot of white-wash with the brush can do 
wonders in other hands than Tom Sawyer's. Late one 
afternoon. Will and Ned, with three other boys, found 
on the O'Neal lot, a pot half full of wash, with the 
brush in it. They immediately began trjang their 
hand. First a piece of the fence was whitened, then 
a big rock, and then looking about them for more 
objects, they saw a small calf lying in the grass. 



72 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"Let's make it white, an' see if its mother will 
know it," suggested Ned. 

The others were willing to try the experiment, 
and so the patient calf was coated from just behind its 
ears to the tip of its tail. It certainly looked an odd 
sight, and the boys were sure its mother would never 
know it. 

Darkness came on before the boys could com- 
plete their investigations after knowledge, and they 
had to go home. Just as Ned and Will were finish- 
ing their suppers— so they both told each other — 
they heard a shot ring out from the direction of the 
O'Neal place. They wondered what it could mean. 
Ned followed his father out to investigate. 

They met Mr. O'Neal carrying a gun and drag- 
ging something dead — and white, Ned observed with 
sinking heart. 

"What have you there?" asked Mr. Fisher. 

"I've kilt the mother skunk o' them all," re- 
plied Mr. O'Neal. 

"Mother skunk? What do you mean?" 

"Weel, sir; the skunks have been a-takin' my 
chickens an' eggs this lang time; I've been lying for 
them, an' I've bagged the mother o' them all." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 73 



"Skunk!" exclaimed the neighbor as he looked 
closely at the dead animal, "have you ever seen a 
skunk?" 

"No; but I've smelled 'em a guid many times; 
and I understand they are a litish color." 

"This is a calf. But what's the matter with it?" 

"A calf!" exclaimed the Scotchman in alarm, 
"Mon, how—" 

Ned Fisher's curiosity seemed to have been 
satisfied, for he quietly sHpped back to the house and 
then made his way to where Will was standing by 
his fence. 

"Say, O'Neal's— shot— that calf," Ned stam- 
mered. 

"Shot it? What for?" 

"He thought it was a skunk." 

"A skunk!" Will laughed before the serious- 
ness of the situation came to him; but Ned did not 
join in the merriment. Presently, Mr. Fisher came 
to where the boys were. 

"Did you boys whitewash that calf?" he asked. 

"Yes." 

"What in the world—" 

"We wanted to see if its mother 'd know it." 



74 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"Well, its owner didn't seem to know it, any- 
way,'' chuckled Mr. Fisher. "But, say, boys, how 
many of you had a hand in this?" 

Ned counted Ave. 

"That calf is worth at least five dollars. As 
there are five of you to blame, a dollar apiece is about 
right." 

A dollar each! How in the world were they ever 
to raise that sum? Ned had thirty-five cents which 
he fondly hoped to soon raise to fifty, which he was 
intending to spend on his gun. Will had fifteen cents 
only in ready cash. What the other boys had could 
not be determined that evening. 

But the end of this unfortunate business was not 
so bad after all. Seeing that .the boys were repentant 
and that they were willing to do what they could to 
make it right, Mr. Fisher helped them to obtain jobs 
where they could earn a little money. It was a whole- 
some experience for the boys to have to work and save 
to pay a debt; and when it was done, they all felt as 
if a heavy load had been lifted from them. 

"Gee," exclaimed Ned, "all that money to pay, 
and we get nothing for it." 

"Not even the calf," added Will. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 76 



"You get the lesson," said Aunt Martha. 

Up on the hillside at the east of Springtown 
lived ''Old Man Hansen" in one of the smallest, 
oldest, oddest houses in the village. Trees overshad- 
owed it and vines covered it. All about the house 
grew a variety of flowers, many of which were taken 
indoors at the coming of winter and bloomed pro- 
fusely behind the protecting window pane. Every- 
thing within the two-roomed house was odd, but neat 
and tidy, even as was the old man who lived there. 

A narrow path led from the front door down to 
the gate and to the street. In the summer this path 
was nearly hidden by the tall overhanging grass; 
and it was this path which played an important part 
in one of the boys' pranks. 

"Old Man Hansen" lived all alone, never having 
had] wife or children. These facts singled him out 
from the rest of his fellows. He was odd, he lived an 
odd life, and, therefore, he was a shining mark for the 
boys of Springtown. 

When the boys thought they needed a little more 
reciting fun than run-sheep-run gave them, they re- 
sorted to tick-tacking. There was considerable daring 
required to steal quietly up to a window of the vie- 



76 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



tim^s house, fasten the hook bearing the nail and cord 
well up out of immediate reach, and then retreat to 
some safe place from which the ticking could be car- 
ried on. The boys had tested out a good many of the 
homes of Springtown. When the inmates of the 
house ignored them and their pranks, the game be- 
came a tame affair and they bothered that house no 
more. Even less fun was it when the man of the 
house came to the door and good-naturedly jollied the 
boys. But when the angry inmate tried to catch the 
offenders, the sport became truly exciting and worth 
while. 

"Old Man Hansen" was one who became very 
much annoyed at the boys, and many were the thrill- 
ing escapes they had had from him near his house on 
the hillside. 

On a certain moonlight evening the boys were 
gathered on a corner near the old man's place. They 
had planned, not only to tick-tack him that evening, 
but to add something else to their fun. In a number 
of places they had tied together the long grass across 
the path. When the tick- tacking should begin, a num- 
ber of the boys would show themselves near the 
house, and then when the old man would come after 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 77 



them, they were to lead him on into the path, and 

then "It will be great sport to see him tumble,'' 

they all agreed, as they laughed at the coming sight. 

Everything was ready. Ned was to pull the 
string which made the nail rattle on the window. Will 
and Zeph were to expose themselves to the attack 
of the enemy and lead him to his fall. The boys 
watched until the light went out in the window and 
thei; they went to their various positions. 

Tick, tick, tick, went the nail; then a pause, 
and again the nail rattled against the window. Pres- 
ently the light appeared once more; the old man had 
gotten up again. The boys lay quietly while the door 
opened and the old man looked out. Apparently, 
he saw nothing, so he went back. Tick, tick, went 
the nail. The door opened again. This time he saw 
the two boys standing near the path. They began to 
move away and he gave chase. 

The boys ran down the hill, one on each side of 
the path. The old man darted after them. He was 
swifter than they thought, and he uttered peculiar 
noises as he ran. Will and Zeph scampered for all 
they were worth to get out of his way. He made for 
Zeph who crossed the path just where there was a 



78 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



good strong loop. His foot caught and he was pitched 
headlong into the grass. Zeph gave a lusty yell, but 
soon scrambled up again and was off like lightning. 

Then the old man got fairly into the path, and it 
was not long before he tripped and fell. He did not 
get up again to renew the chase. The boys waited 
within safe distance. They saw the old man sit up, 
but he made no efforts to rise. The boys watched for 
some time, but the sport was over, so they went home. 

The next morning a neighbor told Mrs. Fisher, 
and Mrs. Fisher came immediately over and told 
Aunt Martha that last evening the boys had been 
teasing old Brother Hansen again and that he had fall- 
en and broken his leg. He had been picked up late 
last night by a passer-by, or he might have been ly- 
ing out all night. Something must be done with those 
hoysl 

Aunt Martha agreed. After Mrs. Fisher had 
gone, she foimd Will and Ned and brought them into 
the house. They were quite docile, for they also had 
heard the news. Both of them sat somewhat fright- 
ened on the bench while Aunt Martha seated her- 
self by the table, facing them. 

"I want to talk to you boys," she said, "before 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 79 



the constable or the Bishop comes. Yes, both of them 
are likely to be here." 

The boys breathed and swallowed hard. 

"But if you boys are willing, I think we can ad- 
just this trouble without the aid of either the Bishop 
or the constable." 

The boys were more than willing. 

"Well then, Brother Hansen is a poor man and 
depends for his living on what he raises on his lot. He 
is an old man, and it will take a long time for him to 
get out and about again. He has no one to help him. 
Now, who is to take care of his place, hoe and water 
his garden, chop and bring his wood, feed and milk 
his cow, and do the other chores? Who, I ask?" 

The boys did not reply. They knew now what 
was coming. 

"All right; you two boys are among the ring- 
leaders. You can do a lot with the other boys. You 
get together all the boys who were with you last 
night and tell them that if they do not want to go to 
jail they had best agree to my plans, which is that 
each of you must work at least an hour for Brother 
Hansen, about his house or lot. For a while he'll 
hare to have a woman help in the house, which Mrs. 



80 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



Fisher and I will attend to; but we must have some- 
one to help us also. I am going up to see him this 
morning. You boys see the other boys today and 
this evening you report to me what you intend do- 
ing." 

''All right/' they said as they were about to 
withdraw. 

"Just a moment," Aunt Martha said as she went 
to the cupboard. ''I haven't any cookies today, but 
here's a piece of pie each. Now just sit there and eat 
your pie while I finish what I want to say." She 
leaned forward and looked the boys squarely in the 
face so that they could catch every word. '^Joy and 
sorrow are funny fellows: the more you try to pass 
them on to others the harder they stick to you.'* 

She had the boys repeat the saying three times. 
"Now, remember it," she admonished. "You may 
not understand it fully just now, but the meaning 

will grow with you as you grow Ned, your 

mother's calling you — you needn't go, WilHam 
Wallace." 

Ned slipped out; Will remained on the bench; 
Aunt Martha turned again to him. 

"I'm writing to your mother," she told him. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 81 



*'Vm going to tell her as much as I can of what good 
you are doing for old Brother Hansen, and I'll tell 
her as little as I can the reason for your doing it. 
All right, run along and find the other boys." 




CHAPTER SEVEN 



Wherein the Story-telling Contest is Continued, 



It was raining, and therefore too wet for the boys 
to take to their island retreat; so they gathered in 
the hay loft of the Fisher barn. A new crop of hay 
had recently been hauled in, and the loft made an 
ideal place to spend a wet afternoon and tell stories. 

"Old Man Hansen" was progressing favorably, 
for he had recovered sufficiently to sit on his little 
front porch and direct the boys in their self-appointed 
task of helping him. Some of the boys had changed 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 83 



their opinions of the old man on a nearer acquaint- 
anceship. 

"The old man isn't such a bad chap/' Will com- 
mented as he stretched himself on the sweet-smelling 
hay. "Yesterday, he told me that maybe he would 
have us boys help him all the time, we were such 
good workers." 

"Well, he can afford it," said another boy, 
"ril bet he has a lot of money." 

Some agreed, others disagreed; but the conver- 
sation led to misers, and then to pirates and buried 
treasures, a number of stories being told about them. 
"Boys," said Ned, "here's a riddle; who can guess 
it: 

*0h, I'm a cook and a captain bold 

An' the mate of the Nancy Brig, 
An' a bo'sun tight, an' a midshipmite 
An' the crew of the captain's gig.' * 

Ned looked wise, and admonished Will not to 
tell. The others shook their heads. They were not 
familiar with the nautical terms used. Ned, in order 
to help them, explained the meaning of some of the 
words. 



84 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"Well, how could one person be all the men on 
board a ship?" asked Jim. 

"Give it up?" 
They all did. 

"Well, this was one of them pirate ships which 
run out of grub, an' so they began to eat up each 
other, till there was only one man left." 

The problem was hardly plain yet, so Ned ex- 
plained further: 

"If the officers ate the crew, an' then if the cap- 
tain an' mate an' bo'sun ate the cook, an' then if the 
captain an' mate ate the bo'sun, an' then if the cap- 
tain ate the mate, there would only be the captain 
left, and wouldn't he be all the others in himself?" 

None of the boys disputed this conclusion if the 
premises were true, which some of them doubted. 

"Well, I read it in a book," contended Ned, 
which, of course, was the end of controversy. 

"Say," inquired one of the boys of Charley 
Voss, "Did ye find out about that swan- woman? 
Did she stay with her family or did she go with her 
sisters?" 

"Never found out," replied Charley. 

"I'd like to know. I told the story at home, and 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 85 



they're nearly crazy to find out. My sister said of 
course she went back to her beautiful bird life; dad 
said as how it was a stumper fer him; .an' ma, she just 
smiled quiet like an' said she guessed she stayed with 
her children." 

"Well— but— " 

"Tell us another story, Charley." 

"Let's all tell one," suggested Charley. "I'll 
begin an' tell a chapter, then Ned will continue an' 
tell another chapter, an' then one of you others, an' 
so on." 

"Naw," objected some. "Let's" agreed the 
majority; so they settled comfortably on the hay 
while Charley began: 

"Once upon a time a young man by the name 
of Clarence started out to find his sweetheart who 
was the finest singer in the world. She had been 
stolen by robbers. He set sail from New York, an' 
as the wind was blowing south, he sailed in that direc- 
tion. He sailed an' he sailed, until he came to a land 
which was covered with trees an' swamps an' vines 
reaching from one tree to another. He found a place 
where he could sail his ship quite a ways into the 
land. Then he and his men got off and went into the 



86 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



deep, dark forest. They had come to the Ever- 
glades of Florida. 

"They traced the fleeing robbers to a big cave 
in these Everglades. 

" 'We'll go in here/ said our hero. 

" 'Why?' asked his men. 

" 'See/' he replied, holding up a piece of fine 
cloth. 'This came from my lady love's dress. She 
must have torn it on these briers. Come, follow me.' 

"They entered the cave. It was dark and led 
deep into the earth. They lighted their pine torches 
and found that the cave was in reality a tunnel which 
at one time had been well traveled, for there was a 
good road through it. After a time, they came to 
where it sloped up again, and soon they came out into 
the open and looked about and saw something which 
made them stare with all their eyes. — End of Chapter 
One. You, Dick go on with Chapter Two." 

The boys laughed at Dick as if the joke was on 
him, but this was the condition of the contest, that 
each story-teller would have to extricate the heroes 
of the preceding one, no matter into what straitg 
they were brought. However, Dick had followed the 
narrative closely, and he already had in mind what 
might be in the depths of the Everglades, so he began: 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 87 



"Before them they saw a beau-ti-ful city. The 
houses were of white marble; there were gardens of 
flowers and ripened fruit; there were tall palm trees 
and singing birds; but there wasn't any people to be 
seen in the city. 

"Clarence and his men stood looking at this 
wonderful sight. What did it mean? One of the men 
thought that a plague must have killed off all the 
people. At this they were frightened, and some of 
them wanted to go back at once; but Clarence said, 
'No; we will investigate this mystery. Come, follow 
me.' 

"They went into a garden, picked and ate some 
of the fruit, and they drank of the water in the foun- 
tain. They went through great gates of shining brass, 
and walked along marble paths. At last they came to 
a big building as big as a block. They went up to the 

door and there they saw a man. 

" Tive dollars, please," said the man to them. 

" 'What for?' asked Clarence. 

" To get in,' replied the door-keeper. 

" 'What's going on?' 

" 'A grand concert.' 

" Tive dollars to hear a concert. You must have 
some great singer here.' 



88 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



" The greatest in the world/ 

" 'No, you haven't', said Clarence, then he be- 
thought himself. 'Could that be possible! Yes, it 
might be/ 

*' 'Here, give me a ticket,' said Clarence, hand- 
ing the man five dollars. 'You men remain outside 
and watch.' 

"Clarence went in and found a great crowd of 
people. The whole city must have been gathered 
there. They were very still. The concert had not 
yet begun. Clarence got as close to the stage as he 
could. He looked about at the people, and waited. 
Beautiful music was being played. Pretty soon the 
music stopped, and the curtain on the stage went up. 
—End of the chapter," said Dick. "Go on, Jim." 

With such a clue Jim should have had no trouble 
to go on with the story, but Jim was more interested 
in the antics of Rover, the dog, than the story, and he 
had heard practically nothing of chapter two. Jim 
gathered his bewildered senses. The last distinct 
idea he had of the story was where Charley had said : 
'They saw something which made them stare with 
all their eyes.' What could this be, thought the con- 
fused boy. The most startling thing he could think of 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN, 89 



was that the maiden whom they were trying to rescue 
was dead, so Jim began: 

''They found the beautiful maiden dead." 
There was a chorus of objections to this. What 
was the matter with Jim? There was no sense to what 
he said. They wouldn't have the heroine dead, not 
yet? Jim hadn't kept track of the story. Someone 
else would have to go on with it. 

"All right," said Dick, "Will may continue." 
"As the curtain went up," said Will, "the beauti- 
ful maiden was seen to advance. Yes, Clarence knew 
now that the robbers had kidnapped his lady love and 
had taken her to this hidden city in the swamp to 
make their fortune by having her sing: But could she 
sing under such conditions? That was the question. 
Would she not be frightened so she could not sing? 
Clarence crowded forward until he could speak to 
her, which he did. She heard him. Her captors tried to 
make her go on and sing, but when she tried she could 
not. She tried again, but couldn't. Then the people 
rose and shouted that they had been cheated, and 
they tried to get at the managers of the show; but 
they escaped and took the maiden with them, with 
Clarence and his men in full pursuit. They all ran 



90 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



through the streets of the city towards the under- 
ground passage, but they missed it and came to the 
edge of the big swamp which stretched out ahead of 
them for miles and miles. There was no way for 
them to get across; and now what should they do? 
End of the chapter. Go on, Ned." 

"Gosh," said Ned. "I don't know. I can't." 

"Oh, go on, go on." 

"Well, the robbers found a canoe, got in it and 
paddled their way through the Everglades. Clarence 
found another canoe, and followed. At last they 
came to where the robbers had left their ship. They 
got in and sailed away. Clarence and his men found 
their ship also and they sailed away in pursuit. 
That's all. Slim, go on." 

"And they sailed and they sailed," said Slim. 
"And they sailed and they sailed, till they got to the 
North Pole. They sailed past the ice bergs till they 
came to where the climate was warmer again. They 
sailed and they sailed without ever being able to 
catch the robbers. They sailed and they sailed, 
until at last they came out at the South Pole." 

"South Pole!" the boys shouted in derision. 

"Yes. South Pole," repeated Slim. "My 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 91 



father says he knows a man who beHeves there's a 
hole right through the earth from the North to the 
South Pole, and that the ocean reaches all the way. 
— Well, when the ships came to the South Pole, they 
got caught in the ice, right close to each other. They 
froze up tight. Clarence began to figure how he could 
reach the other ship and rescue his lady love, when 
one day — End of the chapter. Your turn, Zeph." 

Zeph was the poorest reader, the poorest story 
teller among them. At home or at school, he would 
never read if he could avoid it. Where was Zeph? 
over there asleep on the hay. "Zeph, your turn," 
shouted the boys. 

"What y' want?" repHed Zeph sleepily. 

"The ships are in the ice, an' you must get them 
out." 

"Let 'm stay." 

"But you must finish the story. All but you have 
told a chapter, an' this is a contest. Do you give up?" 

"Give up? Not much." Zeph had heard enough 
of the story to get an inkling of it and what was re- 
quired of him. He looked at the boys for a moment as 
if to get the situation in hand, then he said: 

"Well, jest then Clarence 'woke up and found it 
had been all a dream— The End." 




CHAPTER EIGHT 

In Which the Circus Comes Within Reach of SpriTtg- 

town. 



The circus was coming, not of course, to Spring- 
town, but to Wanda, only three miles away. The 
advance agent of the approaching wonder had already 
decorated the fences and sides of barns with pictures 
of wild and fierce animals and of beautiful ladies in 
light flying skirts who were breaking through paper- 
covered hoops, some of which were all ablaze, and 
were lighting on galloping horses. The boys of 
Springtown stood agape before these pictures. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 93 



For days before the circus came, the boys talked 
of nothing else. Who were going? How many could 
raise the price of admission? That was a burning 
problem with many of the boys. The Stephens barn 
stood near the main street, and the bill-poster had 
given the owner two tickets for the privilege of past- 
ing his announcements on its broad sides. Mr. 
Stephens, therefore, was sure of admission ; but Zeph 
had bitter doubts whether he would be permitted to 
accompany his father. 

There were two nights at least each summer when 
the boys of Springtown did not sleep in their beds 
indoors. These were the nights before the coming 
of the circus and the night before the Fourth of July, 
or the night before Pioneer Day if that day was chosen 
for observance. On the nights before these local 
celebrations, the boys made their beds on the top of 
some hay stack, from which they could hear the first 
stirrings of the celebrations, and could be up and off 
without disturbing the family, to the school-house 
lot where a veteran soldier saluted the rising sun by 
the aid of a keg of powder and a pair of Blacksmith 
GoodalFs anvils. 

Circuses have a habit of getting into town un- 



94 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



commonly early, as though they didn't want the 
people to see them; but the boys did not intend to 
miss any of the sights. 

The night before the coming of the circus, six 
of the boys were huddled together on top of the 
Fisher hay stack. Mrs. Fisher had insisted that they 
take with them plenty of quilts, though the boys were 
sure they would not need them. Every year they 
said the same thing, and every time before morning 
they were glad they had them. Only their shoes and 
hats were laid aside, as they crawled between the 
blankets and lay gazing up into the clear, star-studded 
sky. Sleep was far from them. Usually, at least 
three boys were talking at the same time. Towards 
midnight, all but one of them had ceased, and then 
shortly, he also went to sleep. 

But the rooster below them beat them up after 
all. At the first streak of day, he crowed so lustily 
that Ned sat up, rubbed his eyes, and called to his 
companions. They scrambled out much more readily 
than if the call had come from father or mother. 
They pulled on their shoes, drew on their hats and 
then slid down the easy slope of the stack to the 
ground. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 95 



Breakfast? They were not hungry, not yet. 
So away they went through the cold, gray dawn, down 
the road, across the bridge, and on to the highway 
toward town. 

Four of the boys had the price of a ticket in their 
pockets, which they felt of and looked at once in a 
while to make sure it was there. Two of the boys 
had no money, not even a nickel to buy a glass of 
lemonade. It was a sort of trust-to-luck with them. 
Anyway, they would be on the ground and see what 
there was to see on the outside. Only two of the boys 
had any lunch with them, snugly forgotten, for the 
present, in their pockets. The others depended on 
getting something from their folks when they should 
come later in the day. 

The boys had barely arrived at Wanda when 

the circus-train pulled in, and was switched on to a 
siding. The unloading began immediately. Rough, 
loud, dirty, swearing men swarmed about the train, 
and with much noise and bustle, the vans and wagons 
of the circus were taken from the train and hauled 
by the circus horses to the open square in the town. 
Elephants, camels, giraffes, ponies, followed in slow 
procession. Great bundles of dirty looking canvas 



96 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



were dumped on the ground of the square, and these 
were attacked by groups of men. Soon the entangle- 
ment of ropes and pulhes and canvas was spread out 
on the ground. In a short time small tents sprang up 
into which went many of the circus people and the 
horses. The raising of the big tent was a slower job. 
The workmen were ordered about by swearing bosses 
as if they were slaves. Slowly, but surely, the stakes 
were driven, the tall central poles were erected, and 
the big canvas roof swelled into the air. 

The boys stood intently by, thrilled with the 
wonder of it all. They took care to keep out of the 
way of the evil-mouthed bosses. They peeped cur- 
iously into the tents where the cooking of breakfast 
was going on. My, how good that breakfast must 
be! In a few hours, the whole square was filled with 
tents. The big tents were in the center, from which 
extended in two rows, the side-shows, announced by 
great canvas paintings of snake-eating savages, enor- 
mously fat women, and five-legged pigs. The boys 
became interested in the erection of the refreshment 
stands, and two of them got the job of filling a big 
barrel of water from the nearest hydrant. They 
wondered if it was for the elephant, but were soon 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 97 



enlightened, when, after it was filled, they saw a man 
get out his bottles and proceed to make the world- 
famous circus lemonade. First he stirred in a small 
bag of sugar, then a white powder, then from a 
small bottle, a red color; next he cut into thin slices 
a few lemons which floated on top and helped to give 
the liquid the proper appearance. Lastly, some ice 
was put into the barrel; and this was what later the 
venders loudly announced as ''ice-cold lemonade." 

For carrying the water, the two boys got a drink 
of the red mixture. They smacked their lips and said 
it was fine. We must remember that the small boy's 
imagination is brought to high tension on circus day. 

Before noon, wagons began to arrive from Spring- 
town. Mr. Fisher, who was somewhat of a horse- 
man himself, was greatly interested in the fine horses. 
The hungry boys found the lunch baskets, after which 
they could go about their sight-seeing more com- 
fortably. 

The parade traversed the principal streets of 
Wanda, and the crowds followed it to the noise and 
dust of the circus grounds. The Fishers and the 
Joneses all went together, Zeph and Dick going with 
them. The two ticketless boys had wandered from 



98 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



the others. (Later, they claimed to have crawled 
under the tent and to have "seen most of it.") 
Leisurely, the animals were viewed, and then the 
party went into the main tent to see the performance. 
Of course, every boy — and man — who reads this 
story has been to the circus; therefore, there is no need 
of describing all that took place at this performance 
— for all circuses are very much alike. Our boys were 
especially interested in the trapeze performers, the 
bare-back riding, and the clowns. One clown tried to 
ride a bucking donkey, much to the merriment of the 
crowd. Then along came a simple looking man act- 
ing as if he had wandered into the tent and was some- 
what lost. He saw the clown and the donkey, and 
expressed a desire to try what he could do. The clown 
was willing. The man climbed on the donkey and was 
instantly thrown headlong into the ring. He climbed 
on again, and this time the donkey set out on a fast 
run around the ring with the man chnging to the 
animal's mane and shouting as if he was very scared; 
but then the rider leaped up and stood on the don- 
key's back, threw off some clothes and appeared in 
the shining costume of a circus rider. Then along 
came a beautiful white horse, and the rider leaped 
upon his back, and away they went. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 99 



Then came trotting into the ring a good-sized 
Shetland pony with a Httle white-clad girl on its 
back. They made such a pretty picture that even the 
band stopped playing; the clowns quit their pranks; 
the peanut venders rested from their labors. Slowly, 
the pony walked around the ring lifting his feet and 
bowing as if he were greeting the people. Then he 
galloped gently, and the little girl stood up, waving 
her hand and smiling. Attendants now brought in 
some ladders and boxes, and the horse with its rider 
was put through some tricks with these. Just then 
there was a commotion in the other end of the tent, 
and around the area came a galloping donkey, hitched 
to a clumsy cart. It seemed that this act had gotten 
in out of its order, and there was some strenuous 
efforts to stop it; but before this could be done, the 
cart had hit the pyramid of ladders with the pony on 

it and sent them all crashing to the ground. Luckily, 
the little girl jumped unharmed out of the way, but 
the pony was hurled with such force that when it at- 
tempted to rise it stood on three legs for a few mo- 
ments and then sank down again. The circus men 
soon placed the horse on a piece of canvas and drew 
it out of the ring. Then the band struck up again, 
and the performance went on. 



100 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



But the boys could not forget the unfortunate 
accident; and after the close of the performance, 
Ned and Will prevailed on Mr. Fisher to go with them 
to the tent of the horses and make further enquiries. 

"Fm interested in horses," explained Mr. Fisher 
to the rnan in charge, as an excuse for his coming. 
"I would like to know how the little pony is?" 

"Are you a veterinarian?" the man asked. 

"Not exactly; but I have had a long experience 
with horses." 

"Well, come in and take a look at him. I'm 
afraid he's done for. Leg badly crushed, if not 
broken." 

They entered the tent. The pony was lying on 
some straw with its head fastened down so it could not 
get up. It seemed to look up at them with pleading 
eyes; at least, that's what Will Jones thought, and 
his heart went out to the suffering animal. Mr. 
Fisher examined the injured leg carefully. "It's 
rather bad," he said. 

"Bad! yes; I should say!" agreed the man. "One 
of our best acts gone to — We're on the move all the 
time, an' we can't be bothered with a broken-legged 
horse. I guess we'll jest have to knock him in the 
head." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 101 



"0, don't," pleaded Will, impulsively— "give 
him to me— maybe he'll get better— please." 

The man looked at Will, then at Mr. Fisher. 
"Do you think there is any chance?" he asked. 

"Well, there might be." 

"Suppose I give him to the boy here. Take him 
and try your hand. I hate like the devil to kill the 
beast. The little girl — , ah, here she is now." 

The Httle performer came running in. "0, 
my Prince, my poor Prince," she cried as she kneeled, 
and put her arms about the pony's neck. "What can 
we do for you? Oh, please, can't you make his leg 
better?" 

"Now look here, my dear," said the man, "you 
must not carry on so. I fear Prince is done for — but 
at any rate he cannot travel just now. This man, 
who understands horses, has kindly offered to take 
him and see what can be done for him. With care and 
a long rest, he might get better." 

Mr. Fisher was about to protest — he had no de- 
sire to be burdened with a sick horse; but the circus 
man winked at him aside as if to say, "This is only 
to pacify the little girl." 

"Yes, sure, we'll take care of him," agreed Will. 



102 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"And you'll make him better?" pleaded the girl 
as she Btood before Will and looked him in the face. 

"We'll try," stammered the boy. 

"And when we come back here again next year, 
my Prince will be well." Again she placed her arms 
about the horse and she kissed him on the forehead. 
Then with tearful eyes she shook hands with the two 
men and the two boys, and then went on her way. 

The outcome of this incident was that when the 
noise and the confusion of the departing circus had 
subsided, Mr. Fisher looked questioningly at the 
boys and the boys looked in like manner at him, and 
they all looked at the pony. Then Mr. Fisher ob- 
tained liniments and sphnts and bandaged the horse's 
leg in a very professional manner. "The leg isn't 
broken," he said to the boys. "We'll get him to the 
nearest stable and leave him there for a while. Then 
we'll see." 

This was done. In the cool dusk of evening the 
boys rode back home. They were hungry and tired, 
but elated that they had a real circus pony which 
might get well — and besides, had they not shaken 
hands with one of the beautiful lady circus riders! 




CHAPTER NINE 



Which Tdls of the Circus Coming to Springtown, 

Prince, the circus pony, did get better; and one 
fine day a troupe of boys, led by Ned and Will, brought 
him proudly into Springtown. He was lodged in Mr. 
Fisher's best stall, though it was well understood 
that a half ownership in the horse belonged to Will. 
The horse was fed on the choicest of hay, cared for, 
petted, and waited on as if he were in very deed of 
royal Hneage. 

The horse took it all in good part, and readily 
mad« friends with the boys. On sunny afternoons 



104 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



they led him out to the pasture where he nibbled the 
sweet grass and kicked up his heels in frolic. 

"ril bet he's glad to get away from the circus," 
one of the boys ventured. 

"It's not natural for horses to ride on the train," 
said another. 

"And they get nothing but dry hay," added a 
third. 

Thus the boys were trjdng by force of words, at 
least, to justify themselves in keeping Prince away 
from the charm and wonder of circus life. They, of 
course, would much prefer the glorious career of that 
life, but then they were not horses. With horses, 
it must be different. They watched Prince to see if 
he pined for the circus ring or the charming young 
lady who used to perform on his back, but as far as 
they could discern, he was quite content with his 
humbler surroimdings and life. 

For some weeks after the circus, the boys had no 
use for the usual games and sports. Even the island 
was neglected. All of them were playing circus. 
They were turning handsprings, walking on their 
hands, standing on their heads; horizontal bars were 
made in all the yards, on which skin-the-cat and other 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 106 



feats were performed; trapezes were hung in barns 
where there was plenty of soft hay on which to fall; 
old, gentle horses were trotted about the improvised 
rings in the corrals, and the boys practiced all sorts 
of fancy riding on their bare backs. 

But, of course, all these paled into insignificance 
in the presence of the real circus horse which was 
with them. As Prince became quite firm on his hurt 
leg, his owners (Ned and Will) tested him to see if 
he had forgotten any of his tricks. Even Mrs. Fisher 
and Aunt Martha took a hand in this, and to the de- 
light of the two families and a score of boys, the pony, 
with a little urging went through many of the tricks 
it had been acustomed to do in the circus tent. 

"Let's have a circus,'* said Ned one afternoon to 
the boys. 

"Let's—let's." 

Wonderful possibilities came before them. What 
could not be done with a real circus horse as the lead- 
ing attraction! Who should be the rider? Girls 
were out of the question, besides, there were no such 
girls in the whole of Springtown as the one in the 
circus. Of course not. Who should be the clown? 
The riders and the clowns were conceded to be the 



106 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



most important parts of a circus. And so, after 
much talking, and some disagreements and argu- 
ments, it was decided that the two who had the best 
right to play the leading parts were Ned and Will. 
Ned being the best rider, the riding act was given to 
him. Will was to play the clown. Where were they 
to get a donkey or a pig as they had seen in the cir- 
cus? But perhaps they could find some other funny 
things for the clown to do. "Sure," said the other 
boys a little enviously. 

Of course, they could not get a tent in which to 
perform, so they looked about for some other suitable 
inclosure. The Fisher yard was made of poles 
through which the people could not only look but 
crawl, if they desired, so that would not do. The 
Stephens yard was inclosed by a high board fence,, 
and the management of the forthcoming circus ob- 
tained permission to use this yard for the perform- 
ance, for there was to be a charge for admission- 
five cents for grown-ups; but what could they charge 
children was a much mooted question, for this waa 
before the days of pennies. 

The boys cleaned the yard for the ring, erected 
the trapeze and the bars, and then went into trainr 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 107 



ing. It was a hard matter for the parents to get 
them to do their usual morning's work; but with the 
assistance of Mr. Fisher's, Mr. Stephen's and Aunt 
Martha's authority, the rule of forenoon work was 
fairly well enforced. 

/- ■'— learn quicker than men, it was hardly 
a week before the citizens of Springtown read the 
following announcement, written with blue crayon 
on brown paper and posted on the Stephen's barn 
over the ragged remnants of the circus posters: 

CIRCUS 

THE WORLD FAMOUS HORSE PRINCE 
WILL PERFORM 

ALSO THE CLOWN 

AND MANY OTHERS 

NEXT SATURDAY AT 2 p. m. 

Tickets, 5 cents; Children two for five. 

ALL COME 

As this was the first time any part of a real cir- 
cus had ever come to Springtown, there was consider- 
able interest in the event, not only among the boys, 
but among the parents. The promoters of the enter- 



108 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



prise did not sleep on the hay stack the night before, 
but they were up early nevertheless, putting the 
finishing touches to the yard where the performance 
was to be held, getting the tickets ready — for of 
course, there must be tickets — finding costumes, and 
rehearsing some of the more difficult parts of the 
performance. 

About an hour after the advertised time, the 
circus was ready to begin. A number of grown-ups 
mingled with the boys and girls which constituted the 
audience. Mrs. Fisher and Aunt Martha were there, 
as also was the Manager of the Co-op store. Zeph, 
who was the policeman, had a hard job to prevent the 
boys who had no money from climbing over the fence 
or from peeping through the cracks and knot holes. 

At last everything was ready, and Ned Fisher, 
dressed in a long coat and high-topped boots stepped 
into the ring and cracked his father's buggy whip. 
Immediately, Prince was led out and paraded about 
the beaten track. Ribbons were tied to his mane 
and tail. He stepped quite proudly as though he was 
aware of his importance. Ned managed to have him 
lift his foot and nod his head to the people, much to 
their delight. Then he was taken back to his stall 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 109 



while the other performers play: heir parts. Dick 
Johnson skinned the cat with ease. Slim Larsen stood 
on his head on the horse blanket, made into a mat. 
Then all the performers came in at once, including 
the clown. With painted face and baggy trousers, 
he did look funny, and the people shouted and 
laughed. A sort of leap-frog game was then played, 
in which the clown appeared to be very awkward, and 
tumbled foolishly among the boys. Then there was 
some "daring" trapeze performances wherein one of 
the boys unintentionally landed head first on the old 
straw pile in the corner. Then the ring master strode 
forth and announced in important tones that now 
would come the grand act, wherein the famous circus 
horse could take the leading part. The ring was 
cleared. 

Presently, Prince came prancing out with Ned 
on his back. N#d had on tight-fitting knee trousers, 
pink stockings, and a green waist. Proudly, the horse 
and rider passed as in review before the admiring eyes 
of those present. Then the horse stopped while Ned 
stood on the horse's back. Carefully, both horse and 
rider went around the ring, then Ned slid down again 
to a sitting position. 



110 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



It was at this point where the grand double riding 
act should be performed by Ned and Will; therefore, 
the clown made his appearance and stood looking at 
Ned and his steed. 

"Huh/' the clown grunted, "I kin ride that hos." 

The haughty rider did not deign to notice the 
clown; Prince stepped proudly about the ring. 

"Say, let me try,'' begged the clown. 

"You can't ride," scornfully declared Ned. 

"I kin too — I'll show ye." He began to climb to 
the horse's back, from whence, it had been planned, 
he should slide awkwardly and in funny ways, after 
which he should push Ned off altogether and gallop 
off with Prince mid the cheers of the spectators. 

Now, strange to say, in all this preparations for 
circus performing, some one had been overlooked and 
therefore entirely neglected — that was Sport, the dog. 
Humbly he had followed the boys, and had been a 
patient observer through all their antics; but now he 
could stand this neglect no longer. He also must play 
a part; so right at the moment when the clown had 
climbed up again and sat awkwardly backward qn 
the horse. Sport bounded into the ring, and with a 
sharp, joyous bark went after the royal Prince's heels. 



THE BOYS OP SPRINGTOWN. Ill 



The horse, frightened, started forward to a gallop 
around the ring. The clown, instead of tumbling off, 
clung the firmer to the horse. As the speed increased, 
Ned grasped the flying mane, and Will dug his knees 
into the horse's flanks. Faster, faster, they went. 
Sport at their heels as though he were the whole show. 
The crowd hooted and laughed. Prince, now 
thoroughly vexed, tried to shake the boys off, but 
they clung grimly on. Faster became the pace. The 
dust flew, the air was filled with the din of shouting 
and excitement. Sport stuck to his game. 

Aunt Martha and Mrs. Fisher became alarmed. 
''Stop them," they shouted to some of the men who 
seemed unable to move for holding their sides in 
laughter. 'They'll get hurt. Can't you stop them?" 
cried the women. 

Aunt Martha moved out into the ring. "Whoa, 
whoa," she cried and waved her hands. The horse 
changed his course. Out through the admittance 
gate he bolted, upsetting the ticket seller and his 
nickles. Down the road he galloped and into the lane 
which led to the pasture. As he leaped the ditch by 
the willows, a low-hanging branch caught the boys 
and pushed them off into the mud and water! 



112 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



The whole circus rushed pell-mell after theiitl. 
The boys got up, a little dazed, looked at the mud on 
their clothes, and then grinned back at the grinning^ 
questioning crowd about them. 

The circus was over. 

"The show was worth a dollar,'* laughed the 
Manager of the Co-op to the Postmaster as they went 
back to business. 

Prince was found in the lower pasture gently 
cropping the newest grass. The blue ribbon was still 
decorating his tail. 




CHAPTER TEN 

In Which the Boys Become Interested in Theatricals 
and Take Part in an Outing to the Hills, 

As the activity in circus performances lessened 
among the boys of Springtown, the spirit of the drama 
took possession. One of the causes for this was that 
the Springtown Dramatic Company put on the im- 
provised stage in the rock meeting-house "Black- 
eyed Susan" and **Box and Cox" to the delight and 
inspiration of the boys. Then there came a traveling 
troupe into the village with *'Rip Van Winkle." As 
the price of admission to this imported performance 



114 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



was harder to reach than that to the home-made one, 
all the boys did not attend; but they were told all 
about the wonderful Rip and the little men in the 
hills and the dog. 

Some of the boys had helped set the stage for the 
local performance, so they had an idea what was re- 
quired by way of scenery and wings and curtain; 
but of course, they never hoped in their own perform- 
ance to reach the perfection attained by the home 
company, the adult players having for their stage 
manager one Tom Brown, a painter of scenes, who 
had had previous experience in such things back in 
New York. This Tom Brown kindly loaned the boys 
some plays to read, and in other ways helped them to 
get started. 

The trouble' with selecting a play was that all 
of them called for female parts and none of them pro- 
vided for a horse as the chief actor? Some of the boys 
suggested that the girls* parts could be left out and a 
part for a horse put in; but when this was actually 
attempted with "The Corsican Vandetti," they found 
the dialogue did not make sense. The only way out 
of the difficulty was to have one of the boys dress up 
as a girl. The discussion on who should do this was 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 115 



long, but at last it was decided that Dick should play 
the part of the girl because he had a sister about his 
size from whom he could borrow some clothes. 

Prince, the circus pony, could be worked in read- 
ily, for some of the actors could make their entrances 
on his back. Whether the horse was to be used by 
the hero or the villain was also a matter for heated 
discussion. It was finally decided that the hero had 
better have the horse, for it was necessary at a certain 
point in the play for the hero to make great haste to 
rescue his lady love from danger. 

"How are ye goin' to get the horse up the loft?" 
piped Bose Rankin at this point in the argument. 

The boys laughed at their own forgetfulness, 
for they knew all the time that the only available 
place for their theatrical performances was Mr. 
Rankin's hay loft which was roomy, free from hay, 
and had a fairly good floor. Prince, along with the 
girls, was out of it. 

The parents of the boys gave them some help 
in fitting up their stage, for they reasoned that they 
were better engaged thus than ''chasing the streets." 
So every afternoon there was much stir about the 
barn and much rehearsing of parts until they were 



116 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



ready to present to the public the "Corsican Van- 
detti." 

The audience which greeted the boys on the 
afternoon of the opening performance was small but 
select, for every one had to climb the one ladder which 
led to the loft. The manager of the Co-op, remember- 
ing what value he had received for his money at the 
circus performance, was in attendance. This man 
was usually interested in the doings of the boys, any- 
way, for he had a boy just approaching the age when 
he could be admitted into the "crowd." A number 
of the parents were also there. Although the play 
was supposed to be very tragic, the grown-ups 
laughed heartily at the performance as if it were a 
rollicking farce. The only serious hitch in the play 
was when the heroine, (Dick) being asked to lay 
aside her hat, took off wig and all which revealed the 
grinning Dick to the gaze of the laughing company. 

The performance ended without accident. The 
barn did not catch fire; the fat Mrs. Thompson did 
not break through the loose board in the floor; nor 
did anyone fall down the ladder. The boys announc- 
ed that the following week they would present the 
rip-roaring farce, "The Coal Heavers' Revenge." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 117 



This they did, Ned Fisher and Will Jones taking the 
parts of the two revengeful darkies. 

This performance ended the boys' dramatic 
season: Mr. Rankin had bought some more cows, 
therefore he needed more hay, consequently he re- 
quired the barn, accordingly the boys had to get out. 

One of the events in Springtown was the annual 
ward outing to the hills. The usual place of encamp- 
ment was some miles up in the canyon on a high table- 
land beyond what was called "The Notch." This 
'"Notch" consisted of an opening in the ridge which 
looked as if some fabulous monster might have taken 
a bite out of the mountain range. The outing usually 
lasted two or three days, and all the boys of Spring- 
town who were physically able went. 

Food and tents and bedding were loaded into the 
big farm wagons, and about noon the company be- 
gan the journey. That summer the outing was 
later than usual and the hills were beautifully decked 
with brilliantly hued autumn leaves. It was a keen 
joy to breathe the cool, invigorating air, filled as it 
was with the wild aroma of the hills. As they traveled 
up the road, the mountains echoed with songs and 
glad shouts. 



118 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



Ned Fisher rode in his father's wagon, in which 
were also the Jones family, excepting Will, who was 
mounted on Prince. Prince had been transferred 
to the Jones new barn. Uncle Josiah had recently 
bought a cow and had built a barn. Mr. Fisher had 
plenty of good work horses, and had no particular 
use for a pet such as Prince, so he prevailed upon Ned 
to make some kind of trade with Will so that the com- 
plete ownership of the circus animal might pass to 
the neighbor's boy. This was done, so now Prince 
shared with the cow the small, new barn of his owner. 
Since the transfer. Prince had come down to the 
menial work of going after the cows. The boys some- 
times wondered what Prince thought about such a 
''come-down;" but if he thought about his changed 
condition at all, no one was aware of it. The horse 
appeared quite at home with the boys and whatever 
they were doing. He was one of the "the crowd." 
He had long since been forgiven the trick he had 
played them on the day of the circus, as had also 
Sport, perhaps the direct cause of the trouble. 

Some time before the sun went down, the pro- 
cession reached the camping grounds. Tents were 
pitched in a green meadow near a quaking-asp grove 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 119 



by the creek. Dry brush-wood was gathered and 
preparations made for the cooking of supper. Then, 
when smoke and the odor of frying foods had put a 
keenness to their hunger, the company sat about in 
small groups and ate their supper from the white 
table-cloths spread on the grass. Why is it that food 
tastes so much better when eaten from the ground up 
in the hills than from the table at home? 

When supper was over and the dishes were out 
of the way and the cool air came on with the darkness, 
one big community fire was built, about which the 
whole company gathered. Songs were sung, stories 
were told, and experiences of pioneer days were re- 
lated. Then about ten o'clock, the Bishop led in 
prayer, a wonderful prayer it seemed to Will Jones, 
there in the quiet of the hills, with the breeze in the 
tree-tops, the soft splashing of the creek as a tuneful 
undertone, and the stars overhead. 

Then they went to bed — and it was next day 
before they were aware of it. The boys got up with- 
out urging, likewise washed their faces in the cold 
stream, and were soon ready for breakfast. 

That day each group was left very much to its 
own resources. Ned and Will with a number of other 



120 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



boys explored the surrounding hills, found a few ber- 
ries, and came back to camp about noon ready for 
dinner. In the afternoon, Mr. Fisher went with the 
boys to a sand-stone ledge near the "Notch" and as 
they were sitting in the sunlight looking down on the 
valley below, Mr. Fisher asked: 

"Boys, have you ever heard of the Gadianton 
robbers?" 

Some of them had, but it was all very dim in 
their memories; they were eager to know more. 

"When I was a boy," said Mr. Fisher, "I used to 
haul wood from these hills with my father. He it 
was who told me first about these robbers, but, of 
course, later I read about them in the Book of Mor- 
mon. It was my father's opinion that these robbers 
used to live right here in these mountains after they 
were driven out of the country where they used to 
steal and kill and do all manner of wicked things. 
Father took me to a cave up there near that ridge, 
which, I am sure, would hold hundreds of men." 

"Is the cave there yet?" 

"I suppose so; Ihaven't been there for ten years." 

A big cave where robbers had been! What an 
opportunity! 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 121 



"Can't we go to it?" asked Ned. 

"Yes, if you would like the climb." 

"Are — would there be — do you think there are 
any robbers there now?" asked one of the boys. 

"Oh, no," laughed Mr. Fisher. "The robbers 
are all dead hundreds of years ago." 

There were no well-defined trails over the hills 
toward the cave, so the walking was slow, as the boys 
followed their leader, like as in a game of back-out, 
around ledges of rock and thickets of brush. They 
were quite out of sight of the camp when they reached 
the cave. 

The cave proved all that had been said about it. 
It stretched away in darkness far into the mountain. 
Mr. Fisher looked about, and presently found some- 
thing on the sand-stone floor which he moved with 
his stick. 

"Hum," he said. 

"What is it?" asked Ned. 

"Only some traces of bears." 

"Bears? are there bears here?" 

"There have been some not long ago; this is 
their leavings." 

Robbers, and then bears! Well, here was excite- 



122 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



ment enough. Though the robbers were long since 
dead, the bears might be very much alive. The boys 
looked at Ned's father. He did not appear afraid, 
so they took courage and followed him and his pine 
torch into the darkness of the cave. The cave opened 
into other rooms. The guide held the torch above 
his head and shouted into the big blackness. His voice 
echoed dismally, and then everything became in- 
tensely silent. 

The party walked about for some time, then 
made its way back to the opening and daylight. As 
they stood blinking in the sunlight, they heard shout- 
ing down in the valley. They wondered what it could 
be, and if they were missing any fun. 

Presently, a crackling of brush was heard from 
down the hillside. It came nearer, yet nearer to the 
group standing in the mouth of the cave, staring in- 
tently down the hill. Then they saw a big black 
object spring across an open space and begin to climb 
up the hill toward the cave. 

A bear! 

Up it came — straight for them! A few more 
leaps, and it would be on them! The boys stood ter- 
rified. What could they do? They had no weapon 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 123 



with which to defend themselves. On came the bear 
in leaps and bounds! Then the boys let out a ter- 
rific scream, and Mr. Fisher waved his torch which 
was yet smoking. The bear slowed, then stopped. 
He had seen and heard. He was no doubt making 
for the protection of the cave from some enemies 
below, but he saw the entrance to be blocked. The 
animal hesitated, then bounded away along the side- 
hill and was soon lost to view in a grove of timber. 

The boys were weak in the legs, and their faces 
were pale as Mr. Fisher looked laughingly at them 
and said: 

*'We were too many for him, I guess, boys." 

As they clambered down the hills, strength 
came again to their legs and color to their faces; and 
then, when assured they were safe, how they did 
talk! 

*'l jes wisht Fd had my gun," said Ned; ''Fd 
a-fixed him!" 




CHAPTER ELEVEN 

Wherein Ned and Will Spend an Evening with ''Old 
Man Hansen'' with Mutual Profit, 

The days became short, the nights cold, and the 
fall rains began. For the boys of Springtown this 
meant the end of the joyous summer and the begin- 
ning of potato digging and of school. Some of the 
boys said they would "ruther" pick potatoes than 
bend over a copy-book, though both were back- 
breaking jobs. Others of the boys liked school. Ned 
Fisher was among the first mentioned, Will Jones 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 126 



among the latter; he had always been fond of books, 
and it had been through his efforts that others of the 
boys had taken more of a liking to reading. 

The first snow came early that year, and it was 
not long before the stiller ponds were frozen over, 
furnishing skating and sliding for the boys. On Sat- 
urday afternoons when the boys had tired themselves 
out with skating or sliding, or when the ice was poor, 
the Fisher hay-loft was still a good place to meet, 
especially by the big open west door through which 
the sun shone warm on the hay. One such an afternoon, 
the boys were reading Robinson Crusoe. Will had 
received from his mother in England a fine copy of 
the book, and the boys were intensely interested in 
it. Even Zeph had wanted to take the book home to 
finish the chapter on the rescue of Crusoe's man 
Friday; but, no, that wouldn't be fair; so here they 
were that afternoon dead to all the world except to 
that favored and enchanged isle away off in the 
tropical ocean. 

*^Zeph-a-ni-ah!— '' 

"Oh, shucks!" exclaimed that boy in disgust. 
"IVe got to go. Stop till I come back, now." 

They were nearly to the end of a chapter, so Zeph 



126 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



lingered until it was completed. Then, as had been 
agreed, the book was closed until such time when 
they could all be present. The talk then ranged 
from school to sleigh-riding, and many other things. 

"Say, what did Old Man Hansen want of ye?" 
asked one of the boys of Will. 

"Oh, he just wanted me to help him with some 
work," replied Will. 

"Well, I guess he paid ye, didn't he? I heard he 
had a lot of money tied up in a stockin' an' hid some- 
where in his house. He's a regular miser, ain't he?" 

"I don't think so," replied Will. He's poor. "He 
wants to pay me, but I don't take anything. He's 
not well yet from that broken leg." 

"Shucks, I wouldn't work fer nothin'." 

"Aunt Martha says I'm only paying back — an' 
I guess that's so — What's the matter' Sport?" 

The dog which had been lying quietly with the 
boys had arisen and was growling at something. 
Presently, a man emerged from the hay and slouched 
out of the barn and down the road. 

"A tramp!" 

"A mean-looking one, too." 

"He didn't want us to see him." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 127 



''Mother said only yesterday," remarked Ned, 
"that she was sure a tramp was sleeping in our barn." 

Zeph came back presently and as there was time 
for another chapter, the book was again opened, and 
away they all went back to the Robinson Crusoe 
island. 

"Old Man Hansen" had taken a liking to Will 
Jones; that was plainly evident; and what was more. 
Will had taken a Hking to him. Brother Hansen, as 
Aunt Martha always called him, was surely odd, but 
beneath a rough exterior lay a warm, true heart; and 
this heart Will discovered. At least some part of the 
evenings twice a week. Will went up to the old man's 
house and sat with him at the lamp-lighted table and 
read to him from the Semi-weekly Deseret News. 
Then the old man in his poor Enghsh told him of his 
adventures in many parts of the world. Especially, 
he liked to tell how he had joined the Church in far- 
away India, and what a time he had had in getting 
to Zion. As the boy listened, he began to realize more 
fully what a wonderful thing this "Mormonism" is; 
and he began for the first time to understand why his 
mother had become a "Mormon" and wanted him to 
grow up a faithful member in the Church. 



128 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



The Sunday evening following the Saturday 
when the boys had seen the tramp go out of the barn, 
Will whistled at Ned Fisher's gate. 

"Goin' to meeting" asked Will of Ned when he 
appeared. 

*^Well, I— I don't know." 

"Fm goin' to Old Man Hansen's to spend the 
evening. Come an' go along." 

"All right; I'll tell mother." 

Ned was out again in a moment, and together the 
boys went on up the path leading to the old man's 
house. The night was cold, and dark storm-clouds 
hung low on the hills. They found Brother Hansen 
sitting by his kitchen stove. He looked very lonely, 
indeed, but he brightened at sight of his visitors. 
Slowly, as if painfully, he arose and greeted them and 
placed chairs for them. He turned up the wick of 
his lamp of curious workmanship which now cast a 
cheery light throughout the room. 

The old man looked at the boys quizzically from 
under his bushy eyebrows. "You don't come to 
tick-tack to night," he said. 

"No," replied Will, "mother sent you a piece of 
cake and some jam. She said she was sorry you was 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 129 



not well enough to go to meetin'; so we've come to 
keep you company." 

'Tank you, tank you. I am sorry I cannot go 
to meeting, but I am glad you come.'* He poked the 
fire in the stove and put on more coal. Then he drew 
his chair up to the table and motioned for the boys to 
do the same. 

"I did not get my paper yesterday," said Brother 
Hansen. 

Will was glad in a way, for he would much rather 
hear him talk than to read to him. Besides, Ned 
hadn't heard many of the old man's stories, and Will 
was eager that he should. 

"Tell us about India," suggested Will. *'Ned 
here hasn't seen your maps and pictiu^es," 

The old man went to a desk, from which he 
drew a number of maps, some books and a package 
of pictures which he placed on the table. Specimens 
of shells, large and small, of coral, of woods and leaves 
and barks were brought out and placed in exhibition 
before the boys. Then, led on by Will's question- 
ings, the old man talked about the places where these 
things had been obtained. He pointed out locations 
on the map, and showed pictures of all sorts of out-of- 



130 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



the-way places. The boys were intensely interested. 

"Now, tell us about India," repeated Will. 

"India? but Fve been to oder places than 
India. See!" He traced with his finger on the map 
the routes he had traveled — from Copenhagen to 
Iceland and to Greenland, and many times around 
Cape Horn — 

"Where it's stormy," interrupted Will, wishing 
to show his knowledge. 

"Yees; it is stormy dere, den up de coast to Juan 
Fernandez, where we stopped vonce for vater. Do 
you know vot happened der?" 

The boys looked up while the old man held a 
not too steady finger on the map and gazed wisely at 
them. The boys shook their heads. 

"Dat's Robinson Crusoe's island." 

What! and they had not known that; the boys 
looked steadily at the tiny spot in the South Pacific; 
then they asked so many questions about the island 
that there seemed danger of them not getting away 
from it that evening. At the first opening, the old 
man went on: 

"Den, Fve been to New Zealand, an' to Austra- 
lia, an' to New Guinea; I've been to Manilla, to Hong- 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 131 



kong, an' to Yokohoma; yees, Fve been to India many 
times." 

His trips to India were before the days of the 
Suez Canal, so they had to sail around the Cape of 
Good Hope. At one time he was wrecked off the 
coast of Africa and had a thrilHng escape from sav- 
ages: "But de Lord saved me — for a purpose/' he 
said humbly. 

"My, but you have seen a lot of places,'' re- 
marked Ned. "Now, tell us the most be-au-ti-ful 
place you have ever been in." 

The old man's face became grave as if in pro- 
found thought, and the boys looked up into it, and 
noticed the deep wrinkles in it. It seemed a long 
time before he could weigh the evidence for and 
against all the beautiful places he had seen to deter- 
mine which was the most beautiful; but, at last he 
said: 

"I tink de leetle town of Dal in Denmark is de 
most peautiful spot on de eart." 

The boys were astonished. Surely Paris or Ber- 
lin or some place in the South Seas would be more 
beautiful than a Danish village; but the old man 
gave the boys no time to question this decision. He 
went on: 



13^ THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"Ven I joined de Church in India, as I told you, 
I vent back to my home in Denmark to tell my folks 
of de good tings I had found. Vel, de vould not listen 
to me— did not vont me nor my religion, an' so I had 
to go avay." 

Brother Hansen went again to the desk, and from 
a drawer brought a package of photographs. He 
fumbled among them, drawing out a number. "Dis 
is my fader and dis my moder,'* he explained; "dese 
are my sisters. I have no broders; and dis" — ^he 
untied a carefully wrapped one — "an' dis is Marie." 

The old man sat back in his chair and looked at 
the boys as they examined more carefully this pic- 
ture. It was a photograph of a Danish girl with 
round face and smooth hair and plain, simple dress. 
The room became very still. Then, suddenly, there 
came a knock at the door. 

"Come in," said Brother Hansen. 

The door opened slowly, and in the opening 
stood a man. "Excuse me," he began hesitatingly, 
"but could you give a hungry man something to eat?" 

"Come in," again invited the old man, arising. 

"No, thank you; just a piece of bread and but- 
ter." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 133 



The boys looked closely at the visitor who shrank 
back at their gaze. Brother Hansen went to his 
cupboard, prepared a jam sandwich, and gave it to 
the beggar, who thanked him and hastily retreated. 
The old man closed the door again, and then came 
back to the table. "Poor fellow," he said. 

The boys looked again at the photograph of Marie. 
"And who is this, did you say?" asked Will. 

"Dat's Marie. Ven my folks vould not have me 
or my religion, I vent to her. She believed same as 
I, ven I exblained to her; but her folks vas angry 
too, 0, so angry! Marie, she vas de most beautiful 
girl in Denmark, an* so good! I had to leave. I vent 
to Spain, den to New York. Ven I got back, back 
to de leetle town of Dal in Denmark, Marie vas 
dead!" 

The boys could see something like tears creep 
slowly down the old man's wrinkled face; but soon 
he brushed them away, smiled again, and then when 
the boys got ready to leave, he brought out the cake 
and jam which Will had brought. Though the boys 
mildly protested, they had to have a taste before 
leaving. Then he thanked them for coming and 
asked them to come again soon, which they promised 
to do. 



184 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



The boys were silently busy with their own 
thoughts until they arrived at Ned's gate. Then 
Ned said : 

"Fll bet that fellow who came to Old Man Han- 
sen's is a tramp — the same one who ran out of our 
barn yesterday." 

"Sure he was — and say, he heard some of the 
boys say the old man was a miser and had money in 
the house. He came to rob him." 

"I bet he did!" 

The boys being at the house scared him off; but 
he might come back. They ought to tell somebody — 
the constable. Meeting had let out, and among the 
last to pass was the town constable. The boys stop- 
ped him and told him their story and their fears. The 
officer looked his doubts, but offered to accompany 
the boys up to the old man's house, which he did, and 
the three stationed themselves in the bushes near 
by. 

The night was cold, and it was far from comfort- 
able standing there waiting. The officer said the 
boys had brought him on a wild goose chase, and he 
was going home. They pleaded with him to stay a 
while, but to no avail. He went home. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 135 



Then the light went out in the house they were 
watching. The old man had gone to bed. The boys 
shivered with cold, and, it must be admitted, with 
fright. A dark object came up the path toward them. 
It was only Sport, who came humbly wagging his 
tail as if asking pardon for thus intruding. ''You 
rascal,*' said Ned. They would make too much noise 
in sending him back home so they told him to "lay 
down'' and be quiet. After all, there was some com- 
fort in having Sport with them. 

Presently, as they watched, a man came slowly 
up to the door. It was the tramp come back. Their 
fears were well founded. He tried the door, but find- 
ing it fastened he went around to the window. He 
began to fumble with it, trying to open it. 

What could they do? 

"We must scare him away," whispered Will. 

The tramp seemed to have gotten the window 
open. 

Just then the boys gave vent to the loudest calls 
they were capable of. They shrieked in terror, and 
Sport jumped up and added his bark to the noise. 
The tramp immediately left the house and ran 
through the lot away from the boys The shouting 



136 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



had attracted the attention of the constable who 
turned back just in time to catch the tramp 
as he came cross-lots to hide in a bam. The old man, 
hearing the racket, got lip again, lighted his lamp, and 
came to the door just in time to see the boys and the 
dog chase past into the street toward home. 

So that night there was some excitement in 
Springtown. What with the calming of old Man 
Hansen, the viewing the captured desperado now safe- 
ly lodged in the jail, and listening to the wild-eyed 
narratives of Ned and Will, the citizens of the village 
did not get to sleep until some time past midnight. 




CHAPTER TWELVE 



In Which the Bishop Talks to the Boys, and William 
Wallace Is Called upon to Make a Sacrifice, 

At the Sunday evening meeting after Christmas, 
the Bishop of Springtown read out the names of six 
boys which, he explained, he wanted to meet at his 
home the following evening. At the appointed time, 
the boys — Will and Ned among them — with much 
speculation of what was wanted of them, appeared at 
the home of the Bishop. 

Mary, the Bishop's daughter, invited them into 



138 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



the warm, cosy parlor and told them to be seated. 
"Father will be in shortly/' she explained; "and while 
you are waiting, you are to eat an apple;" at which 
she passed a plate of the rosiest of apples. When the 
fruit had been disposed of, all but the tiniest cores 
which the Bishop's daughter collected from them, 
the Bishop came in. He shook hands with each of 
them, and asked them how they liked his apples. 
He did not give them time to answer in many words, 
but went on talking as he seated himself where he 
could look the boys squarely in their faces. 

"Well, boys," he said, "I have been watching 
you for some time — " The boys glanced at each 
other in dismay— "and although you are up to a good 
deal of mischief, you are generally pretty good boys. 
Now, all good boys in this Church should grow better 
and more useful as they grow older; and the best 
way to do this is to receive the Priesthood and have 
some responsibilities placed upon them." 

The fears of the boys vanished somewhat. 

"I think all you boys are worthy to receive the 
Priesthood and to be ordained to the office of Deacon. 
But first, let me tell you something about this Priest- 
hood which all boys do not think of or understand. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 139 



"The Lord in bringing to pass His purposes, works 
with the means at hand. On the earth, this consists 
of the people who Hve here. So the Lord gives some 
of the authority which He has to those who are wor- 
thy and will accept it and help Him with it. This 
authority we call Priesthood. 

''All you boys know that when a seed is planted 
in the ground, it sprouts very slowly. You cannot 
see it grow; you can only see that it has grown from 
day to day. In order to mature, a plant must have, 
besides the soil, water, sunshine, and warmth. Again, 
that which grows quickly is not of much value: a 
mushroom springs up during the night, but a great 
oak tree takes a hundred years to mature. 

"Now, when the Priesthood is given to a man or 
a boy, it is like planting a seed in his soul. If he will 
take proper care of it, it will grow to something of 
great value — something beautiful and strong; but it 
takes time. When the brethren will place their hands 
on your heads and bestow the Priesthood upon you, 
there will be no difference in you that you or any- 
body else can see. The seed only has been planted, 
and it will take time for that seed to grow and bear 
fruit. You cannot see it grow; time only will show a 



140 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



growth. The boy who will use and develop the gift 
he has received will grow in all the things which go to 
make a good, fine, strong man; but the boy who 
neglects to take care of his gift by not doing his duty 
will grow only in body. 

"There are differences in men as well as in plants, 
and we all can see those differences. For instance, 
I know two men who received the Priesthood on the 
same day when they were boys about your age. One 
of them took the right care of his gift, and now he is 
a fine, very much respected man, one whom you all 
know and honor. The other neglected that which 
had been bestowed upon him, did wrong, and the 
Priesthood was taken from him. Now he is like a 
little crooked tree that has been denied sun and 
water and air — and you boys would know him also 
if I mentioned his name. These two boys started 
life very much alike; as boys they were equal; now, 
if you should put them side by side, you would see 
a big difference." 

The boys listened attentively. The Bishop 
seemed to have closed his little sermon; but he began 
again as if he had thought of something else: 

"By the way, there is another matter I wish to 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 141 



speak of. The other day I found two of you boys — 
ril not say which two — on the sunny side of a barn, 
smoking. Now, I know, of course, that what you 
were smoking was cedar bark rolled into the form of 
a cigarette. Cedar bark may not be as injurious as 
tobacco, but the danger of it is that it leads to tobac- 
co, and when once tobacco gets a hold of a boy, it 
makes a slave of him for life, unless he quits. Now, 
this man of whom I told you who doesn't amount to 
much is a constant smoker, and he began the bad 
habit by smoking cedar bark as a boy, as I happen 
to know. — That's all, boys; you'll all think about 
what Fve been telling, will you not?" 

Some of the boys said, "Yes, sir." 

"Well, now; the Lord's going to make Deacons 
of you; but He'll need your help to make fine men 
out of you. Just a moment, boys. Mary, come in 
and sing for the boys." 

The Bishop's daughter came in and seated her- 
self at the piano. "What do you boys like?" she 
asked. 

In a few minutes she had the boys standing about 
her singing lustily if not so tunefully. In half an 
hour, they departed in fine spirits. 



142 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



In due time the boys were ordained Deacons 
and definite duties were assigned them in the care of 
the meeting house. Will Jones wrote to his mother 
about it; in her reply, she said: 

" I am so glad that you were counted 

worthy. Do your duty always, and you will have 
great joy in it. You have told me before of the fun 
you often have, and I am glad to know that you are 
enjojdng youself. Some boys wouldn't think it fun 
to clean and fill the lamps for the meeting-house; 
but it truly is. Prove it for yourself in this way: 
During the meeting, look at the clean lamp-chimney 
and the brightly burning lights and note what a cheer- 
fulness they cast over the meeting. Then look into 
your own heart, and see if there isn't a sweet content- 
ment there, a sort of reflection from the lamps you 
have polished. Try this, and then write to me the 
resu ts." 

Shortly after this letter, another came from his 
mother, telling him that his father had died. Al- 
though this father had never been much to Will, the 
boy's heart was full at the news, and he cried softly 
on his pillow that night. His mother was now alone. 
She could come to him. Here was plenty to eat and 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 143 



to wear, and here was sunshine and freedom; and 
then, the boy planned, he was getting a big boy and 
could work. He would earn money and send for his 
mother. The tears dried, and he fell to sleep with 
the happy thought. 

The next morning at the breakfast table Will 
ventured: 

"Aunt Martha, don't you think I ought to quit 
school now and go to work to earn money to bring 
mother here?'' 

Aunt Martha looked at the boy for a moment 
before she replied: "What could you do?" 

"Well, I don't know. I — I can chop wood, an' 
do chores, an' when summer comes, I can work on a 
farm." 

"Well, when summer comes we can think about 
that, but you mustn't quit school now. I'm sure your 
mother wouldn't want you to do that." 

"No; I guess she wouldn't, but — " 

There seemed no other way at present than to 
continue school. Will talked the matter over with 
Ned a number of times; but his chum, though not 
usually lacking in suggestions, could not help him 
much in the way of earning one hundred dollars, the 



144 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



amount it would take to pay for the mother's passage. 
The sum seemed vast and unattainable to the boys. 

About a month before the closing of school, the 
Manager of the Co-op store went to the school teacher 
and told him he was looking for a boy to help in the 
store. 

"I don't want a boy who is not going to school," 
the Manager explained, "for he's not the right kind to 
begin with. I want one who can be trusted, and who 
is apt, for there will be a chance for him to advance 
to a more responsible position." The teacher and the 
Manager considered the names of a number of the 
boys, but nothing was to be done until the close of 
school. 

Spring came early that year, none too early, how- 
ever, for the boys, eager to get out from poorly venti- 
lated school-rooms to the invigorating out-doors. 
On the sxmny side of the school house, when there 
wasn't time for marbles, the boys discussed their plans 
for the coming season of summer activity. Will Jones 
did not say much; responsibility weighed upon him; 
he would have to go to work to earn money just as 
soon as school was out. Ned Fisher's leadership had 
also waned, for his father had plans for him. These 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 145 



two, at least, though they did not fully realize it, 
would, from that time on, be largely out of the boy- 
hood life of Springtown. They would step out as 
leaders of the "crowd," changed anyway by the en- 
tering of younger boys, and others would take their 
place. 

At the close of the school. Will Jones was given 
the job in the store. With awe the boys heard the 
news. None of their ambitions had ever reached the 
exalted height of working in a store, where, if they so 
desired, they could at any time go behind the counter 
and take a piece of candy. And here was Will Jones 
given this great honor! 

Uncle Josiah and Aunt Martha and the Bishop 
and many others were glad. ''Good for you, WilHam 
Wallace!" exclaimed his aunt. "See to it that you 
make good." 

And the boy said, "I'll try." 

Will had been in his new position about a month, 
when one day Mr. Fisher came into the store and lean- 
ed over the counter where Will was weighing out some 
sugar. 

"Say," said Mr. Fisher, "do you want to sell 
Prince?" 



146 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

''What? Sell Prince? Not much. Who wants 
to buy him?'' 

"I do." ' ' 

"You? he's no good to work. Why do you want 
him?" 

"Oh, I just want him; he's no good to you — ^just 
an expense." 

To sell the horse had never entered Will's head. 
Prince was "one of them," — one of the crowd. One 
might as well think of selling one's best friend or a 
brother. Oh, no. 

"Well, I don't blame you; but look here." Mr. 
Fisher showed Will a letter. "I just now got this from 
the postmaster. It's from the circus man who says 
he's trying to find the person who got his disabled 
pony last summer at the circus. He asks the post- 
master if he knows of any such person in Springtown. 
The postmaster does, so here's the letter." 

Will read the letter. It informed him that the 
young lady who had been riding Prince in the circus 
would give him no rest until he had found the horse 
for her. The circus would be in Wanda again early 
in June. He would be glad to meet the one who now 

had the pony, if the animal was still alive Will 

handed the letter back, and said : 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 147 



"He can't have the horse. He's mine." 

"Of course, he'll pay you for it." 

"I don't care. Prince don't want to go back 
to the circus. He wants to stay with me." 

"How do you know?" 

"Well — I know — Do you want some soap?" — 
this to the customer. 

The postmaster answered the letter of inquiry, 
and in the course of two weeks, Will received a com- 
munication. In it the circus man said he was glad to 
know that the horse was well. The young lady was 
set on having it again, as she had never been able to 
perform her act successfully since she had lost him. 
Of course, the expense of caring for the horse would be 
met. The circus would be in Wanda on the 7th — 
ten days off — and he would come to Springtown the 
day before. 

All the members of the family were present 
when Will read the letter. 

"Are you going to let them have him?" asked 
Gwenrfi'i?.'* The arKmBl- hail become her special pet 
since be -had lived ii-their barn. *^' 

"I^^I don't know," acknowledged Will. 

"Don't you let them take him," she protested. 



148 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"Hush, Gwennie," admonished the mother. 
"We'll have to do what is best and right. We'll wait 
and see what the circus man says." 

The man came as he had promised, the day be- 
fore the circus. He looked over the little horse, ex- 
amined carefully its injured leg, and observed it run 
freely about the yard. Mr. Fisher, Aunt Martha, 
Ned, Will, and a group of other interested boys were 
there. 

"He seems to be all right again," said the man. 
"Now, what do we owe you for taking care of him?" 
He spoke as if he was still owner of the horse, and that 
it was only a matter of paying for the hay he had 
eaten and then taking him away. 

"The horse is mine," said Will, ''and I don't 
want to sell him." 

The man looked at the boy. "Yes," continued 
Will, "you gave him to me — and Ned, and Ned gave 
me his share — an' he's mine — an' I want him!" 

The boy's voice trembled. This was the first 
animal of any kind that he had owned. He had learn- 
ed to love the knowing little pony, and the pony had 
surely returned that love as much as any animal can. 
Even as they stood there looking at it, the horse came 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. . 149 



up and placed his head over Will's shoulder as if he 
was choosing rather to stay with the boys in the 
green fields of Springtown than to be hurried about 
the country to cut up capers in a dusty, noisy circus 
ring. Will placed his arm about the horse's neck and 
petted it gently. 

"Well," said the circus man, "we'll say it's your 
horse. I'll buy him from you. I'll give you seventy- 
five dollars for him." 

"That's fair," remarked Mr. Fisher, who thought 
the price was all such a plaything was worth. 

Will stood mutely holding the horse's head, while 
no one spoke. 

"We'll make it an even hundred dollars," offered 
the circus man. 

Aunt Martha beckoned to the boy, who came to 
her, with a mute question on his face. 

"A hundred dollars will bring your mother from 
the old country to you," she whispered to him. 

A hundred dollars! What a large sum of money! 
Yes, that would bring his mother to him. Will's 
mind was not exactly clear.- He went over to the 
fence, rested his arms on the rail, and looked across 

the valley to the hills In a few moments he 

came back. 



160 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"ril take the hundred dollars," he said. 

The circus man took out his pocket book, and 
from it counted five twenty dollar bills, and handed 
them to Will. Then he wrote out a bill of sale, which 
he had Will sign. 

"Well, now, that's business,'' remarked the 
buyer. "Will you bring the horse to Wanda?" 

Will shook his head, whereupon Ned offered to 
accompany the circus man with the horse. Will 
gave the horse a farewell pat, then with the roll of 
bills firmly gripped, he walked into the house. 

The circus man smiled sympathetically, gave 
each one in the group a pass to the circus — two to 
Aunt Martha — and then with Ned Fisher's help 
started on his way to Wanda. 

But Will Jones did not go to the circus next day, 
though he had a ticket and a chance to ride. He said 
he could not very well leave his work at the store. 
When the Manager heard of that, he took a half day 
of! himself, leaving Will in charge of the business. 




CHAPTER THIRTEEN 



In Which Will Jones' Mother Comes to Zion, and We 
Say Goodhy to the Boys of Springtown, 

As usual, nearly the whole of Springtown had 
gone to the circus. The village was quiet and there 
was very little business at the store. About the mid- 
dle of the afternoon, the Bishop stepped in to where 
Will was keeping lonely watch. 

"Nothing much doing today," remarked the 
Bishop. 

"No; everybody's gone to the circus." 



162 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



"All but you — and me," said the Bishop with a 
smile. 

"That's about right." 

"Well, I heard what you did with your horse 
yesterday." 

"Yes." 

"I'm sure you did the right thing." 

"I guess I did." 

"For now you can soon have your mother with 
you." 

"Yes," was all Will could say. 

"I have just come from old Brother Hansen. 
He's pretty sick." 

"I'm sorry; he wasn't well the last time I was 
there." 

"I don't think he'll last long. He said he would 
like to see you. Could you go to him this evening?" 

"Yes; just as soon as I close the store, I'll go up." 

"That's good. Perhaps I'll call a little later in 
the evening." 

As soon as Will could close the store that evening, 
he hurried up the hill to old Brother Hansen's. He 
found the old man in bed, hardly able to speak; but 
the sick man smiled faintly when he saw the lad com- 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 153 



ing to his bedside. Will took his hand, and the sick 
man grasped it quite firmly, as he motioned for the 
boy to sit down near him. 

"Fm — so — sick,'* he whispered. 

"Fm sorry; can I do anything for you?" 

The old man shook his head; then he looked at 
Will quite a while without speaking. Then faintly: 

"I — soon — go. I have — no — people here. You 
— good — boy." 

Will was confused into silence. 

"Your moder — soon — come. You — live — here." 
The old man raised an emaciated hand as if to indi- 
cate the room. Will did not understand, nor did he 
question him further, but he tried to cheer him by 
telling him what was going on in the neighborhood. 
The sick man hstened, then after a time, he inter- 
rupted: 

"Dare, dat— vil— do. Bring— me— box." He 
pointed to the drawer in his desk which contained 
his photographs. Will brought them to the old man 
and helped him untie the package and place the pic- 
tures in his hands. He looked at them one by one. 
The last one was that of Marie, and he held it in his 
trembHng hand a long time. When he laid it down 
on the coverlet, he murmured: 



154 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 

"Marie — I — come — soon." 

Then he apparently fell asleep. Will watched 
for some time until the Bishop came, then some Re- 
lief Society sisters. As Will could do no more, he 
went home. 

The next morning the Bishop called at the Jones' 
home before Will had gone to the store and told them 
that old Brother Hansen had died during the night. 

"And I have something to tell Will, here, which 
you, Sister Jones, may hear. Some people who talk 
unknowingly have said that the old man was a miser, 
and that he had money hidden away somewhere in 
his house. Brother Hansen told me that that was not 
true. All the property he had was the two-roomed 
house in which he lived and the lot which he culti- 
vated so well. He has no known relatives. Now, 
this is what he told me day before yesterday, that 
when he was dead, the lot and the house and every- 
thing in them should go to William Wallace Jones 
and his mother." 

The announcement was received in silence. 

"That's right," continued the Bishop. "I con- 
gratulate you, my boy. You deserve it too, for your 
kindness to the old man. He looked upon you as 
one of the best friends he had ever had." 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 165 



Wiirs heart was full. He could hardly eat his 
breakfast. How the Lord was blessing him, and he 
so unworthy! He had tried to be a good, fair, honest 
boy; but he hadn't done much, and now— 

Ned met Will at the gate. He also had heard the 
news about Will's good luck. They walked on to- 
gether to the store. Ned was talkative about his own 
affairs and prospects. He and his father were going 
to take up some land on the west bench and try dry- 
farming which was then beginning to be developed. 
Ned was to have a share in the profits, if there were 
any— and of course, there would be. Yes; prospects 
were indeed bright for him also. 

The one hundred dollars, with a few more added, 
were immediately sent to the Liverpool church 
office for the emigrating of Will's mother. Shortly 
after old Brother Hansen's mortal remains had been 
laid away on the hill-side. Aunt Martha, Will, and 
Ned inspected the property which had come into 
Will's keeping. The lot had been somewhat neglected 
that spring, although the flowers and the shrubbery 
were growing in rich profusion and confusion. Will 
could see that much work would be needed to bring it 
back to its former well-kept condition. Aunt 



156 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



Martha's practical eyes scanned the house, within 
and without, as to changes and possibilities. 

The sun was just setting when the three stood 
on the small west porch and looked out on the beauti- 
ful prospect before them. 

*Tour mother will like this," said Aunt Martha. 
"She was always wanting flowers and grass and a bit 
of a garden, which she could never have in her crowd- 
ed Liverpool quarters, though she did manage, you 
remember, a pot or two of flowers." 

"How she'll like the fresh, clean air: excl. imed 
Will as he himself expanded his lungs with a deep 
breath. 

"Yes; and the freedom of country life, with 
plenty of butter — real butter, mind you — and eggs 

and milk I'm so glad and thankful for her sake, 

and for yours, too. Will." 

She placed her hand caressingly on the boy's 
shoulder, and the boy surprised her by giving her a 
hug and a kiss. 

"Aye, you are an English lad yet," she said in 
her English way. 

"But I'm also an American," he rephed, straight- 
ening to the dignity of his new citizenship. 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 157 



Six weeks later the mother was due to arrive at 
Wanda. Uncle Josiah, Aunt Martha, Gwennie, and 
Will drove to the station to meet her. The train from 
the East was late as usual; but at last, the big Over- 
land Limited arrived, slowed down, and stopped 
long enough to let off a little English-clad woman 
and her big trunk. Will stood back, somewhat timid- 
ly. Was this his mother? She had changed; yes, 
but there was the familiar smile, peculiar in that it 
seemed to come rather from her eyes than from her 
lips. She looked at her boy as he stood there, a little 
apart. How he had grown! How handsome he 
looked! 

"William Wallace," she said, "my boy, is that 
you?" 

"Yes, Mother!" 

Then they were in each other's arms. 

What a lot they all had to tell each other as they 
drove homeward! They let the horses take their own 
slow gait, so the sun had nearly set when they ar- 
rived at Springtown. They drove directly to the new 
home on the hill-side. 

Not a word had been told Will's mother about 
the home which was awaiting her, clean and spick 



158 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



and span within and without, with even a great bank 
of EngHsh ivy chmbing over the walls and about the 
back porch. 

The new arrival looked at the house approving- 
ly. 

**What a neat little home you have," she said to 
Aunt Martha. 

"Do you like it?" 

"Oh, yes, indeed; it looks so cool and cosy." 

Aunt Martha gave Will a knowing wink. They 
all went into the house, and the weary traveler sank 
into a chair, not too tired, however, to look on the 
simple comfort about her. Aunt Martha took her hat 
and cloak and hung them in a built-in closet behind 
the door. Mrs. Jones noticed that the closet was 
empty, also that there was no clothing hanging about, 
such as may always be found in a small occupied 
house. She wondered what it could mean. 

"Isn't this your home?" she asked Aunt Martha. 

Aunt Martha laughed gently and again looked 
at Will. 

"What is it — what are you two up to?" 

"William Wallace, tell her." 

"This is our house. Mother, our home" 



THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 159 



"Ours?" 

Mrs. Jones arose and looked about in curious 
amazement; but she was cut short in her questioning 
and her exclamations by a chorus of voices from with- 
out. The boys of Springtown — WilFs crowd — had 
come in a body, and they were trying to sing a song of 
welcome by the open window. Even Sport, the dog, 
was with them, and added his howls to their voices. 
Will went to the door. 

"Halloo, boys; come in," he invited. But the 
boys hung back. 

"Who are they?" asked his mother. 

"They're the boys," explained Will, "my crowd." 

Mrs. Jones added her invitation to Will's. 

"Thank ye, m'am," said Dick; "but we jest come 
to welcome ye, 'cause you're Will's mother." 

Just then the Manager of the Co-op store drove 
up and handed over to Uncle Josiah a freezer of ice- 
cream. He followed the ice-cream into the house, 
remained a few minutes, then came out and drove 
off. The boys lingered. 

Yes; each of them got a dish of ice-cream and a 
cookie before they went clattering and chattering 
down the path. 



160 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 



After the others had gone, Will lighted the lamp, 
the self-same lamp of curious workmanship which 
had given light for many years to its former owner. 
He placed it on the table in his mother's room. 

"Mother," said Will, *'this is your room. Go 
to bed now and rest as long as you can in the morn- 
ing. I sleep out on the porch. There need be no 
hurry for either of us to get up, as I have tomorrow 
off." 

Tears of joy stood in the woman's eyes. What a 
release from bondage had been hers! To what a real 
Land of Zion had she come, and how good the Lord 
had been! She took her boy's hands and looked into 
his face for a long time. 

"William Wallace," she asked softly, "do you 
always say your prayers?" 

"Yes, mother — nearly always." 

"Tonight we'll say them together. We'll thank 
the Lord for His great mercy and goodness toward us. 
Come, my boy, kneel here with me." 

The silence of a country evening brooded over 
valley, village, and the little home on the hillside. 
From a nearby yard the silvery tinkle of a sheep's 
bell and the soft cooing of pigeons mingled their 
music with the mother's fervent prayer. 

THE END. 



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